Trey Landers posted two photos to Twitter on Sept. 26: before-and-after shots showing the progression he has made as a member of the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team.
The Wayne grad Landers dropped 10 pounds in the offseason. He weighs 215 entering his sophomore season. He wanted to get down to 210, but 215 will work.
“I would say right now I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in a long time,” Landers said Monday, “and it feels good.”
Landers was one of two members of Dayton’s 2016 recruiting class. The other member of the class, forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, sat out last season as a partial qualifier.
On a senior-dominated team, Landers played fewer minutes than any scholarship player. He appeared in nine games and averaged 5.8 minutes and 3.0 points in those games. None of the other scholarship players who were healthy for the entire season played fewer than 300 minutes.
Landers didn’t appear in any games after Feb. 14. He watched his teammates from the bench and said he learned a lot from the departed seniors and the older returning players. He battled hernia pain during the season and had surgery after the season to repair the injury but said that didn’t have anything to do with his lack of playing time.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Landers said. “Every opportunity I have I’ll take advantage of.”
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There should be plenty of chances for Landers to earn playing time this season. Dayton has 10 available scholarship players entering the season. Four are freshmen who have never worn the UD uniform.
“It’s a little different now,” Landers said. “Now I’m having to be the big brother. I was the little brother a year ago. I feel like I’m taking on the role well.”
His teammates have noticed the transformation. Junior point guard John Crosby said Landers is bigger, stronger and more comfortable on the court.
“I’m pretty sure he wasn’t happy about sitting out, but I’ve watched him develop over this year,” Crosby said, “and he’s gotten a lot better from when he first set foot on the Dayton campus. I’m excited about the opportunity he’s going to have.”
Landers almost doubled his scoring average from his junior to senior seasons at Wayne (8.7 to 16.4). He expects to make his biggest impact on the defensive side with this team.
“I’ve had conversations with coach (Anthony Grant),” Landers said. “The offensive stuff will come for me, but I really want to be that defensive guy for this team and that glue guy and energy guy.”
Defense is big with Grant, and Landers said, “I honor it every day in practice.”
Grant has noticed. Landers looks like an experienced player, he said, someone who learned on the bench last season.
“We’re hoping we can get him to a place where he understands his value to our team,” Grant said, “and the role we need him to play and the way we need him to approach the opportunity in front of him. I think he’s got a good week under his belt in terms of what we’ve been able to get done, and we just have to build on that.”