The opening day of the college basketball season moves from Friday to Tuesday in 2018. Teams can play their first game Nov. 6.
If the Dayton Flyers start the second season of the Anthony Grant era that night at UD Arena, 244 days will have passed since they lost to Virginia Commonwealth in the Atlantic 10 tournament and ended the 2017-18 season with a 14-17 record. That’s a long time to wait for the Flyer Faithful, who grew used to seeing their team last until at least mid-March the previous four seasons.
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For Grant, his coaching staff and the returning Flyers, the months ahead — especially April and May — will be just as crucial to the future of the program as the season to come. That’s because Dayton has five scholarships open for the 2018-19 season.
The coaches may choose not to fill them all. It’s not uncommon for programs to play with fewer than 13 scholarship players. It gives coaches flexibility in future recruiting classes. However, Dayton coach Anthony Grant said last month “everything is on the table” when it comes to recruiting, meaning his team could add more freshmen from the 2018 class, transfers who would have to sit out a season or grad transfers or junior-college players who could play next season.
“We have to add the right pieces,” Grant said. “I’m not just talking talent wise, but from the culture standpoint. We need guys who understand what it is we’re trying to do and the way we need to do it.”
The April recruiting period began Thursday. Coaches can visit prospective student-athletes through April 18, except for a dead period between April 9-12. There are two evaluation periods at certified events this month (April 20-22 and April 27-29). The late signing period begins April 11.
Here’s a glance at the questions fans might ask about Dayton’s recruiting this spring.
What do the Flyers need: With five open scholarships, Dayton can afford to go after players at every position. Of course, the departures of the Flyers’ two tallest players — the 6-foot-10 Kostas Antetokounmpo and 6-11 Jordan Pierce — leaves them without anyone taller than 6-8. That’s the height of Obadiah Toppin, who will debut as a redshirt freshman next season.
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Another big body in the post to complement Josh Cunningham, a 6-7 forward who will be a redshirt senior, would help. A point guard to help Jalen Crutcher, who started 22 games last season as a freshman, could also be a priority, though incoming freshman guard Dwayne Cohill could fill that role.
Who are they recruiting: Dayton’s top targets may become clearer in the days ahead as players set up official visits and narrow their choices. The list of transfers who Dayton might recruit is a long one. As of Thursday, VerbalCommits.com listed 379 Division I players who are transferring.
Here’s a partial list of the players Dayton has offered scholarships to or shown interest in:
• Wendell Mitchell, a 6-foot-3 guard at Trinity Valley Community College, listed Dayton among his top-five college choices on March 26. Texas A&M, Southern Methodist, San Diego State and Grand Canyon also made his list. JucoRecruiting.com ranks Mitchell No. 1 in the class of 2018. He ranks No. 2 in the country, according to 247Sports.com’s junior-college rankings.
• Dayton is one of a number of schools interested in Kennesaw State transfer James Scott, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. The 6-5 guard averaged 17.3 points per game last season as a sophomore.
• Dayton contacted Zach Johnson, a grad transfer from Florida Gulf Coast University, according to a report by ESPN’s Jeff Borzello. Johnson is a 6-foot-2 guard who averaged 16.1 points per game, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists last season.
• Neftali Alvarez, a 6-foot-1 guard from Miami, Fla., who is a three-star recruit in the class of 2018, listed Dayton as one of the 16 schools he’s still considering.
• Among the 2019 recruits Dayton is pursuing is Tre Mann, a 6-4 point guard from The Villages Charter School (Fla.). He told ZagsBlog.com Dayton and Tennessee are recruiting him the hardest.
• Dayton also offered a scholarship March 29 to Tyler Bertram, a 6-foot-3 guard in the class of 2019. He’s originally from Cooperstown, N.Y., but now attends Vermont Academy, a private boarding school in Saxtons River, Vt.
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When will players commit: Dayton could get commitments anytime between next week and mid-June. Last year, Grant and his staff were just getting started in recruiting at this point because Grant was introduced as Dayton coach April 1.
Grant’s first recruit, Crutcher, signed on May 6 last year after completing an official visit. Toppin committed May 16. The last transfer Dayton landed, Cunningham, committed on June 11, 2015. Another transfer who picked the Flyers, Charles Cooke, also committed in June.