One former Flyer congratulated another Thursday as the Dayton Flyers found the man they hope keeps them on the upward trajectory set by Archie Miller.
“Congratulations to my guy AG!” Chris Wright wrote on Twitter. “Type of guy players love to play for! Extremely knowledgeable of the game and knows what it takes to succeed!”
Dayton announced the hiring of Anthony Grant, 50, on Thursday, three days after Miller was introduced as coach of the Hoosiers at a press conference in Bloomington, Ind. He’s the 19th head coach in UD men’s basketball history and the seventh in the last 70 years. He’s the second former Dayton basketball player in the modern era to be hired as head coach and the first since Don Donoher, his former coach.
“I am honored and humbled to be the head coach at the University of Dayton,” Grant said in a statement. “It’s a great responsibility to take over at an institution that is so well-respected. Anyone you talk to in college basketball would say our program is a successful one, but the potential is here for so much more.”
Here are five things to know about Grant:
1. He has coached the best: Grant left Billy Donovan’s staff with the Oklahoma City Thunder to coach at Dayton. He was coaching Russell Westbrook, the NBA’s leading scorer (31.8 points per game), in Oklahoma City. Last season, Grant coached Kevin Durant, who left for the Golden State Warriors as a free agent.
“With him having all those connections, coaching those guys, knowing other NBA coaches, guys will want to play for him,” Dayton senior Kendall Pollard said.
ARCHDEACON: Anthony Grant a ‘natural fit’ for Flyers
2. He has plenty of experience: Grant, a Miami native, coached under Donovan with the Florida Gators from 1996-2006 and won a national championship in 2006. Grant then spent three seasons as head coach at Virginia Commonwealth (2006-09, 76-25) and six at Alabama (2009-15, 117-85).
Tom Ostrom, an assistant on Miller’s staff the last six seasons, began his coaching career on the Florida staff with Grant.
“I’ve known Anthony and (his wife Christina) for 20 years,” Ostrom said. “They’ve always been a big part of my life. The University of Dayton is getting a man with impeccable integrity and character. Our young men in this community are getting a leader and role model at the highest level.”
3. He was a great Flyer: Grant played for the Flyers from 1983-87. He saw limited action as a freshman when Dayton reached the Elite Eight and then was a starter the next three seasons. He ranks 61st in school history with 902 points.
“The great thing is he’s one of the family,” former Dayton forward Keith Waleskowski said. “We get to keep someone close and actually bring him back into the family.”
4. He may stick around: Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said he and Grant look at the program the same way.
Dayton’s last three coaches have used the program as a stepping stone, leaving for jobs at Clemson, Georgia Tech and Indiana. Grant, 50, played for Dayton so he has more connection to the program than Oliver Purnell, Brian Gregory and Miller. He’s also older than those three coaches were when they were hired — Purnell was 40 in 1994, Gregory was 36 in 2003 and Miller was 32 in 2011 — and at a different point in his career.
That doesn’t mean Grant will stay forever, but his hiring could bring long-term stability to the program.
“If you have high-caliber people, there’s a demand for that,” Sullivan said. “I think we acknowledge that. I’m never going to shy away from trying to attract the highest-quality performers we can. At the same time, you want to provide an environment where personal interest meets organizational need. I’m not trying to predict the future. At the end of the day, we’re certainly looking long term, but things change rapidly in this business. We were only interested in people who view the University of Dayton as a destination job.”
5. He’ll be introduced Saturday: UD will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. Saturday to introduce Grant. The event, at the Spectrum Flight Deck, will not be open to the public. Pollard said the players will meet Grant for the first time sometime Saturday before the press conference.
Anthony Grant at a glance
Playing career: 902 points for Dayton Flyers from 1983-87
Coaching career: 76-25 in three seasons at Virginia Commonwealth (2006-09); 117-85 in six seasons at Alabama (2009-15).