The Dayton Flyers could have two foreign-born players on the roster in the 2017-18 season. That’s significant because the program doesn’t have a long history of recruiting players from outside the United States, at least compared to some programs.
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Matej Svoboda, a 6-foot-7 forward from the Czech Republic, signed with the Flyers on Monday, though he said he still has to pass one last high-school test to make it through the NCAA Clearinghouse. Kostas Antetokounmpo, a 6-10 forward from Greece who sat out last season as a NCAA partial qualifier, is the other player from Europe on the roster.
They would be the eighth and ninth foreign-born players since 1947 (as far back as Dayton’s official records go) to appear in a game for the Flyers when they take the court. Here’s a list of the first seven, ranked in order of career points scored:
1. Dyshawn Pierre, Whitby, Ont. (2012-16)
The 6-7 forward finished his career a year ago with 1,145 points. He ranked 34th in school history in scoring but was passed by Scoochie Smith (1,289) and Kendall Pollard (1,171) last season.
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Pierre played a big role in Dayton’s biggest victory in the Archie Miller era, hitting three free throws with 27 seconds left in the NCAA tournament victory over Ohio State to set the stage of Vee Sanford’s last-second shot.
“At the end of the day, I just remember the whole Elite Eight run all together,” Pierre said. “It was just a magical moment. A lot of people didn’t know how far we were going to make it or if we were even going to make the tournament. The three free throws, I don’t think about it, but it’s probably one the biggest moments of my basketball career.”
Pierre just finished his first season in pro basketball and led the top league in Germany in rebounding.
2. Makur Shayok, Khartoum, Sudan (1990-92)
The 6-8 center, whose first name was spelled Makor during his time in Dayton, scored 541 points in two seasons with the Flyers. He started playing basketball as a senior in high school in Sudan in part because of the success of Manute Bol, a native of Sudan then playing in the NBA. Shayok played two seasons at Alvin Community College in Texas before transferring to Dayton.
Shayok was the first foreign-born Dayton player in the modern era. He was married with two kids when he signed with the Flyers and had two more kids with his wife Helen by the time he finished his career at the age of 25. They would have one more child.
Two of their kids played college basketball, and one is still playing. Son Shayok Shayok played two seasons at Bradley and then two seasons at Missouri-Kansas City from 2011-2016, scoring 430 points in his career. Their daughter Yar Shayok scored 1,230 points in her career at Detroit. Their youngest son, Marial Shayok, transferred from Virginia to Iowa State in April. He averaged 8.9 points last season for Virginia.
3. Alex Gavrilovic, Strasbourg, France (2011-14)
The 6-9 center scored 198 points in three seasons at Dayton. He averaged 2.3 points in the Elite Eight season of 2013-14. He appeared in only one NCAA tournament game, seeing four minutes of action in the first half of the Sweet 16 game against Stanford.
Gavrilovic transferred to Towson for his final season. He averaged 5.4 points for Towson in the 2014-15 season.
Gavrilovic is now playing pro basketball in his home country. He averaged 8.3 points in 29 games for Chorale Roanne in the French B league this season. He also writes a blog (TheDailyGents.com) that focuses on fashion, fitness, nutrition, brand promotion and “gentleman rules.”
4. Maurice Beyina, Bangui, Central African Republic (1993-97)
The 6-6 forward scored 183 points and appeared in 95 games in four seasons. He averaged 3.6 points as a senior.
Beyina was initially granted three seasons of eligibility by the NCAA when he signed with Dayton because he played in the Jabbo Kenner Summer League in Washington, D.C., in 1992. He appealed the NCAA’s decision and was allowed to play a fourth season. He was a 25-year-old senior in 1996-97.
Beyina played pro basketball in France after graduating from UD. He was named a special advisor to the president of the Central African Basketball Federation last season.
5. Stephen Bamigbola, Lagos, Nigeria (1997-2000)
The 6-9 center scored 105 points in three seasons with Dayton. He came to the United States to play at Liberty University but had to sit out the 1995-96 season because of transcript problems. He transferred to Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Md., before arriving at UD in the 1997-98 season.
Bamigbola saw limited action in his first two seasons. He appeared in nine games as a senior and then was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. He never played for the Flyers again.
6. Marco Pikaar, Leiden, Holland (1992-96)
The 6-10 center scored 77 points in four seasons. Even though he saw limited action in 94 games, Pikaar enjoyed his time at UD.
"How many guys can say they got to play Division I basketball?" he said in 1995. "How many can say they used basketball to get a degree? And thanks to basketball, I've seen the world.”
According to his LinkedIn profile, he is now the sales director in Europe for the Koss Corporation, which manufactures headphones and earbuds.
7. Thiago Cordeiro, Pernambuco, Brazil (2007-08)
The 6-9 center played one season with Dayton. He scored 64 points, averaging 2.4 points in 27 games. He arrived at UD after two seasons at
Barton Community College in Kansas. He decided to transfer after one season with the Flyers. His minutes dwindled during the stretch run of the season.
"I wasn't mad (at the coaches),” Cordeiro told the Dayton Daily News in 2008. “I was mad at myself only. I know how the coaches work and work with us. They want to get us ready to play. And I knew if I wasn't playing, it was only my fault, it wasn't their fault. I have nothing against anybody here. I really love all my teammates. And the support we get from the fans is incredible. My decision was completely based on my career. I really enjoyed my year here. I have a lot of good things to remember. The only reason I'm leaving is to get more playing time."
Cordeiro played his final season at Division II Arkansas Tech in 2008-09 and ranked second on the team with 11.9 points per game.