The last four Dayton Flyers coaches began their tenures in Dayton in vastly different situations.
In 1994, Oliver Purnell took over a program that had won a total of 10 games the previous two seasons. Nine years later, Brian Gregory inherited a team that had won 24 games the previous season and returned three double-digit scorers. When Archie Miller took over in 2011, Dayton had a stable program with four straight 20-win seasons.
A little more than 13 months ago, Anthony Grant took the reins in Dayton with some advantages his predecessors didn’t have and plenty of challenges as well. The Flyers had made the NCAA tournament in Miller’s final four seasons and won Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championships in his last two. However, the Flyers graduated the four most important pieces of those last two teams in 2017.
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Grant’s challenge last spring and this spring has been rebuilding the roster in hopes of making the 14-17 finish in the 2017-18 season a one-year aberration.
“Our staff, our coaches and really everybody affiliated with the university has done a good job in terms of showcasing why this is a really good situation,” Grant said. “I’m really excited about the class we’ve put together up to this point.”
Dayton still has two scholarships open for the 2018-19 season, and Grant said “everything is on the table” when it comes to recruiting, meaning the Flyers could fill those scholarships or leave one or both open for 2019. But, for now, here’s a look at what Grant and his staff have accomplished in recruiting in their first year on the job and how Grant compares to the previous three Dayton coaches in that department.
Date of hire: March 30, 2017.
Early recruiting: Grant and his assistants convinced three of Archie Miller’s recruits to stick with Dayton: Jordan Davis, Jordan Pierce and Matej Svoboda. Pierce and Svoboda stayed with the program for one season.
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Two other members of Miller’s final UD recruiting class left: McKinley Wright (Colorado) and Nahziah Carter (Washington). The new Dayton coaches signed their first two new recruits in May: Jalen Crutcher and Obadiah Toppin.
First full recruiting class: Dayton signed Holy Name High School senior guard Dwayne Cohill, a four-star recruit, last fall, and then got a commitment from Monroe College guard Jhery Matos in February. So far this spring, Dayton has added Long Island Lutheran guard Frankie Policelli and two transfers who will sit out this season and then play two years with the Flyers: Ibi Watson (Michigan) and Rodney Chatman (Chattanooga).
“One thing I really told our guys at the beginning of the season is that our culture was the most important thing. No matter what we do we have to establish a culture of who we are, who we aspire to be & the way we’re going to go about doing things."— Dayton Basketball (@DaytonMBB) May 11, 2018
- Coach Grant #DaytonFlyers pic.twitter.com/hpgLzhSQld
Date of hire: April 3, 2011.
Early recruiting: The Flyers lost the two members of the 2011 class — LaDontae Henton, who would score 2,059 points in four seasons at Providence, and Percy Gibson, who played three seasons at Iowa State before transferring to Oakland — when Gregory left.
Dayton picked up three recruits in the months after Miller was hired: Alex Gavrilovic, who would play three seasons with the Flyers before transferring to Towson for his final season; Georgetown transfer Vee Sanford, who earned fame for hitting the game-winning shot against Ohio State in the first round of the 2014 NCAA tournament; and LSU transfer Matt Derenbecker, who would play one season for Dayton before transferring to New Orleans.
First full recruiting class: The group that joined the program in the 2012-13 season would help Dayton get to the Elite Eight in 2014 and set the stage for four straight NCAA tournament appearances and ultimately Miller leaving Dayton for Indiana.
In May 2012, Jordan Sibert transferred from Ohio State to Dayton, and the Flyers signed Dyshawn Pierre, who would prove to be one of the most important players in Miller’s six seasons. Pierre ranks 26th in school history with 1,317 points. Sibert ranks 44th with 1,030 points in two seasons.
There were three more players in the 2012 class: point guard Khari Price, who started as a sophomore for the Elite Eight team in 2014 but transferred to Southern Mississippi after the season; and forwards Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson, who played supporting roles as sophomores in 2013-14 and were dismissed from the team in December 2014 after breaking into dorm rooms on campus.
Date of hire: April 9, 2003.
Early recruiting: Purnell had filled one of three open scholarships in the 2003 class when he left. That recruit was Centerville’s Chris Spears, who would appear in two games as a freshman before leaving the program. Dayton added another recruit to the roster in December of Gregory’s first season: Nick Stafford, who had committed to Dayton three months earlier but was delayed in joining the program by NCAA Clearinghouse issues. He scored 70 points in three seasons at Dayton.
First full recruiting class: The 2004 class ranked 20th in the country, according to one recruiting service. Trent Meacham played one season at Dayton before transferring to Illinois, where he scored 866 points in three seasons. Chris Alvarez averaged 7.4 points in two seasons at Dayton and played his last two seasons at Northeastern. Norman Plummer, the first recruit Gregory signed, transferred to Southern Indiana after scoring 804 points in three seasons.
Of the 2004 recruits, two finished their careers at Dayton. Jimmie Binnie averaged 6.0 points as a senior and scored 567 points in his career. The other recruit remains one of the greatest players in Dayton history: 6-2 guard Brian Roberts, of Toledo. He ranks fourth in school history with 1,962 points.
Date of hire: April 8, 1994
Early recruiting: Purnell didn’t have to fill any roster spots in his first season. The four-man recruiting class signed by Jim O’Brien in November 1993 stayed with Dayton after O’Brien was fired following the 1993-94 season: junior college transfer Jeffrey Brookins and freshmen Rodney Horton, Michael McCray and Ryan Perryman.
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Perryman had a stellar career at Dayton. He ranks 18th in school history with 1,524 points.
Brookins averaged 6.5 points in two seasons. Horton scored 539 points in three seasons before transferring to Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania for his final season. McCray quit the team because of a lack of playing time two games into his sophomore season.
First full recruiting class: Purnell’s first three recruits were: Josh Postorino, Coby Turner and Andy Metzler. The freshmen all averaged just over 5.0 points per game in the 1995-96 season.
Turner ranks 45th in school history with 1,025 points. Postorino scored 369 points in a career cut short in his junior season by a cranial cyst. He now works in the athletic department as the director of athletic development. Metzler scored 450 points in three seasons.