Archdeacon: Eventful summer has Dayton’s Anthony Grant eager to begin

First-year Flyers coach discusses Kostas Antetokounmpo and Sam Miller as fall classes commence


As he sat at his desk in the Cronin Center on Monday morning, Anthony Grant was talking about how he was really looking forward to seeing it later in the day.

The solar eclipse?

Nope.

His University of Dayton basketball team which he would meet with in full for the first time all summer.

Over the past couple of months, the Flyers new head coach hadn’t seen anything of the one player he really needed to see and he had seen way too much – as we all had – of another one of his players.

The two guys being referenced here are Kostas Antetokounmpo and Sam Miller, one who had hurt his leg and the other who had damaged his reputation.

Antetokounmpo – the much anticipated 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman who is the younger brother of NBA sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo – suffered what he said was a non-displaced tibia fracture on July 10 while training back home in Greece for the FIBA U20 European Championships.

A day after the injury Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, which gives scouting reports on players from around the globe, had reported he had suffered a hyper-extended knee not a fracture.

UD said it didn’t know the exact injury or the extent of damage because Antetokounmpo had remained in Greece where he got treatment.

With fall classes set to begin at UD on Wednesday, the players were all back on campus Monday and Grant said and he was planning to meet with them.

“I think Kostas came back to the States a week or so ago and now he’s back in town here, but I haven’t seen him yet,” Grant said. “No evaluation has been done here yet and that probably won’t come until next week.

“The ideal situation would have been for him to be here (over the summer) and be evaluated by our doctors, but at the same time you look at his family’s perspective. He is their first one to attend an American university and play college basketball.

“Their first son (Thanasis) came and played in the (NBA’s) Developmental League for a short period of time and is now playing professionally overseas. And Giannis went straight from Greece to the NBA. So they have a different perspective.

“What you and I think is normal is not their normal. They look at it from a professional basketball standpoint. In the NBA, when it’s the offseason you’re off until it’s time to report.

“The way I see it, we have to educate and teach them what needs to happen. But at the same time both Giannis and the Greek national team had access to medical personnel they felt comfortable with when it came to the information and treatment Kostas was getting.”

»RELATED: Antetokounmpo’s status still uncertain

Regardless, Grant admitted he didn’t know the severity of the injury or if it would impact Antetokounmpo’s first season on the court after sitting out last year as an NCAA partial qualifier.

As for speculation on fan blogs that the Greek big man might not play this season, Grant shook his head:

“I saw the video (of the injury) but I can’t say that he’s not hurt seriously or he is hurt seriously, I don’t feel like he’s not going to play. The stuff that’s out there on social media, I don’t know where that comes from.”

In the case of Miller, social media delivered some embarrassing and troubling images of 6-foot-9 junior from Arlington, Va., who was just coming back from a broken ankle suffered the very day in early April that Grant had been introduced at a UD Arena press conference as the Flyers new coach.

Then on July 30, Miller was arrested for disorderly conduct by intoxication and underage consumption at Caddy’s Taphouse in Beavercreek. His responses — some belligerent, some unintelligible — were first captured on a video from the back of a patrol car where he had been put.

And things got worse once he got to the Greene County Jail.

He reportedly urinated in his cell and then security cameras captured him –with his outer shorts down around one ankle – walking over to a fellow inmate and slapping him. That guy, John Watkins Jr. who had been arrested for alleged OVI, got up, fought back and knocked him to the floor.

»RELATED: Flyers Miller faces assault charge after jail fight

The video clip soon was being viewed on various websites across the internet and the story made it into various sports outlets around the nation.

The university quickly suspended Miller for a semester and his athletic scholarship was revoked.

Grant remembered first meeting Miller right after that April press conference:

“One of the first things I did was go see him. At the time he struck me as a kid who was somewhat of a loner, not the most socially comfortable guy in terms of dealing with newness.

“But as we got to know each other I felt, ‘OK, he kinda needs a new opportunity.’ And when I looked at what he had done in the classroom and in terms of rehab, he was working toward being ready to go now.”

Then came that one bad night in Greene County.

“When the situation came up, obviously I was surprised, disappointed, the whole deal,” Grant said. “But I also know I was 20 years old at one time and did some things, if social media was around then, I wouldn’t have been too proud of.

“I think Sam is a good kid who made a very, very bad decision. I think he has some personal issues that need attention and hopefully this incident will make him more aware of the things previous coaches and other people have seen.

“Hopefully he realizes, ‘I need to pay attention’ and he get the help he needs away from the university.”

Although he said he had not had to deal with an incident quite like this while he was head coach at Virginia Commonwealth or Alabama, Grant said he knew his response had to be geared to different entities: the Flyers program and the remaining players and then to Miller himself:

“We have a program to run and there are expectations and responsibilities We have to do what’s best for UD basketball and we want our guys to know that while you do have freedom of choice, you don’t have freedom of consequences.

“But I also want to do what’s going to be best for Sam down the way. I didn’t want to try to make an example out of him.

“I know you could say this is negative publicity for our basketball program and the university so let’s just cut ties with him and dissociate ourselves. But I don’t think that’s best for him. My thing is, 10 years from now does this incident define who Sam Miller is? If we get rid of him then yes, depending on what he does, it could define him.

“By allowing him to say, ‘I want to make this right,’ – whether it’s at Dayton or somewhere else of his choosing – he could make it a great story.

“I don’t know what the next step is. I can’t say what he and his parents will think six months from now and if returning here on his own dime is in his best interests.”

»RELATED: Dayton down to 11 players after Miller’s suspension

Grant said nothing has been promised to Miller in the future.

He did say he likely would not fill the open scholarship before this season begins because the fifth-year transfer players have long ago chosen their schools and the junior college and high school players still remaining without a program likely wouldn’t fit the Flyers needs. And then UD would be committed to them for multiple years to come.

As for Miller, Grant sincerely wants what’s best for him:

“Once the ball stops bouncing for him, I hope he’ll be able to say, ‘Hey I went through this and here is what I learned and became. I’m a better man for it.’

“To me that’s turning a negative into a positive.

“And that would be good to see.“



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