Ryan Donnelly has earned a promotion.
The 2014 Central Valley High School grad will coach varsity girls basketball at his alma mater.
Donnelly, 24, coached at the junior-varsity level last season.
“I’m excited for Ryan taking over,” said Jesse Padilla, Donnelly’s predecessor. “He knows the game of basketball.”
“It’s always nice bringing back someone that went here,” Central Valley athletic director Greg Magni said. “He made it very clear he wanted the job. He really enjoyed coaching at the JV level. He has a good rapport with the kids. He brings a ton of energy to what he does. He comes from a basketball family. He grew up around the sport.”
“It’s really cool to coach at the place I played at,” Donnelly said. “I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. I’m grateful I got this opportunity. I want to be a part of this program for as long as I can. I want to share some knowledge, and help athletes grow and reach their dreams. I’m old school when it comes to coaching. You have to master the fundamentals before you move on to anything else.”
Donnelly replaces Padilla, who led the Hawks to 131 wins, three conference titles and five playoff appearances during his 14 years at the helm.
Central Valley had a combined record of 5-60 the last three seasons.
The Hawks struggled due to a lack of depth.
Central Valley lost potential players to the school’s girls wrestling and soccer programs.
“We’re not looking for an overnight miracle,” Magni said. “We’re going to be patient. Over time, Ryan will do great.”
“I’m definitely up for the challenge,” Donnelly said. “I’m going to try to build the program back to where it was. But it’s going to take time. I have to be patient. I’ll use my players’ strengths to put us in the best position to win. We’re going to stick to simple basketball. We’ll slow it down and make each possession count. We’ll play the game the right way.”
Donnelly is regarded as one of Central Valley High School’s greatest basketball players.
The 6-foot-6 forward earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors twice.
Donnelly averaged 17.1 points and 10-5 rebounds as the Hawks reached unprecedented heights during the 2013-14 season.
Central Valley posted a program-best 22-7 record, qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time and finished second overall in the WAC standings (9-3).
The Hawks won one of two games en route to a top-eight finish in the Division-III postseason bracket.
Ryan had a productive first season with Central Valley during the 2012-13 campaign. He averaged 16.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
Donnelly played basketball at three different colleges, including Stanislaus State, Monterey Peninsula College and Modesto Junior College.
He averaged 10.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game during his lone season at Modesto JC in 2017-18. Donnelly shot 46 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range.
Donnelly spent the 2015-16 season at Monterey Peninsula College. He averaged 5.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Donnelly shot 77 percent from the free-throw line.
Donnelly red-shirted during his freshman year at Stanislaus State in 2014-15. He practiced with the team but didn’t play in any games.
Shannon Donnelly, Ryan’s older sister, will be among the fans in attendance when he coaches at Central Valley.
The 1999 Ceres High grad had her No. 35 jersey retired by the Cal State Stanislaus women’s basketball program in 2003. She was inducted into the Warriors’ Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.
Shannon was a three-time All-American and four-time All-Region player at Stanislaus.
She averaged 20.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and led the Warriors into the NCAA Division-II tournament for the first time in 12 years in 2002-03.
In four seasons, Shannon averaged 19.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game and shot 52.7 percent from the field. She held nearly every offensive record in program history when she graduated, including points in a game (42), season (612) and career (2,088). Her single-season averages of 21.9 points (2002-03) and 12.8 rebounds (1999-00) were also school records.
She won the Central California Conference’s Most Valuable Player award during her junior and senior years at Ceres High. Her teams posted a combined record of 51-12, won one league title and participated in the playoffs twice.
Shannon led the Bulldogs to a 30-3 overall record, second-place finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I tournament and perfect 18-0 mark in the CCC in 1998-99.
“She’ll be at the games to offer support,” Ryan said. “She’ll be my third eye. She’ll give me critiques throughout the season.”