- By David Jablonski Staff Writer
More than two months passed between the commitments of Jhery Matos and Frankie Policelli, the two most recent members of the class of 2018 to pick the Dayton Flyers. As they waited for the roster to take shape, Dayton fans grew more anxious by the day, hoping their team would get more help to improve their chances of bouncing back from a 14-17 season.
Then, in a two-day span, coach Anthony Grant and his staff added two players. Policelli, a 6-foot-8 senior forward at Long Island Lutheran High School (N.Y.), announced his decision Monday night and signed on Tuesday. Michigan transfer Ibi Watson, a 6-5 guard/forward with two seasons of eligibility remaining, told the Dayton coaches he would play for the Flyers on Tuesday and signed on Wednesday.
Still, the recruiting continues. Dayton has 10 scholarship players on the roster for the 2018-19 season. Everyone but Watson, who has to sit out the season, can play.
“We’ve got three scholarships available,” Grant said, “and we’re still actively recruiting.”
While Dayton tries to fill scholarships for the coming season, it’s also focused on the 2019 class. The Flyers lose one player after next season — forward Josh Cunningham will be a fifth-year senior — but they could have more spots if they don’t fill all three scholarships open for the coming season.
Jovan Blacksher Jr.: The 5-10, 160-pound point guard is from Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix, Ariz. Fresno State, Cal State Northridge, North Dakota and Grand Canyon are among the other schools recruiting him.
Diante Smith: The 6-6, 195-pound small forward is from Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Iowa State, South Florida, Virginia Tech and Texas Christian are among the other schools who have offered him scholarships.
Toumani Camara: The 6-6, 200-pound small forward is originally from Belgium. He attends Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory in Hollywood, Fla. Buffalo, Florida Atlantic and George Washington are among the other schools recruiting him.
With these latest offers, Dayton coaches continue to show distance isn’t an issue in recruiting. The 2018-19 roster, while heavy on Ohio talent, proves that as well. There are four players from Ohio, two from New York and one each from Illinois, South Carolina, Tennessee and the Dominican Republic.
Here’s what else fans should know about the roster, it stands now:
One senior: This will be the second straight year Dayton has had one scholarship player in the senior class. Last year, it was Darrell Davis. This year, it’s Cunningham. Walk-on guard Jack Westerfield will also be a senior.
Award candidate: Dayton has never had a player win the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award. Cunningham should have as good a chance to win it as any Flyer in recent memory. He’s one of five of the 15 players named to the all-conference first, second or third teams who return.
» UPDATE: What the Dayton roster looks like now
No centers: Dayton’s tallest players, Obadiah Toppin and Frankie Policelli, are both 6-foot-8 forwards. Cunningham and Ryan Mikesell are both 6-7 forwards.
Many newcomers: Five players made their Dayton debuts last season, and it will be a similar story this year. Toppin and the three members of the 2018 class who can play this season — Policelli, freshman guard Dwayne Cohill and Matos, a transfer from Monroe College who will be a junior — will be new to the rotation. Mikesell returns to action after missing last season while recovering from hip surgeries.
Lineup question: One of the big questions, if Dayton doesn’t add a point guard to the roster, will be about the backup point guard. Jalen Crutcher is the returning starter. He’ll be a sophomore. Last year’s backup, John Crosby, left the program. Cohill could fill that role because of his versatility at the guard position.