With two-time All-Atlantic 10 center Da’Ron Holmes returning, the Dayton Flyers faithful feel that a return to the national landscape is overdue.
As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.
Anthony Grant is a well-respected coach in the basketball industry but has left plenty to be desired at Dayton. Some of it was out of his control. For example, in 2019-20, the Obi Toppin-led Flyers had a historic season, putting together a 29-2 record and a No. 1 seed resume before COVID canceled the remainder of the season.
Still, Grant has not officially led Dayton to an NCAA Tournament appearance despite having a top group of talent in the A10 year after year. The good news is that superstar Da’Ron Holmes is back for another season, as is a chunk of his supporting cast. Considering Dayton is a program with high expectations, this could be largely considered a put up or shut up year for Grant.
Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.
Head coach: Anthony Grant (15th season, 7th at Dayton)
2022-23 record: 22-12 (12-6)
2023 postseason finish: No postseason
Notable departures: Toumani Camara (NBA Draft), Mustapha Amzil (transfer to New Mexico)
Notable non-conference games: at Northwestern (Nov. 10), Charleston Classic (Nov. 16-19)
PG: Malachi Smith (6-10, 170, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 7.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.6 APG
SG: Kobe Elvis (6-2, 170, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 8.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.9 APG
SF: Enoch Cheeks (6-3, 190, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 15.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.5 APG (Robert Morris)
PF: Koby Brea (6-6, 174, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 6.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.7 APG
C: Da’Ron Holmes (6-10, 220, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 18.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.7 APG
6: Isaac Jack (6-11, 250, So.)
2022-23 stats: 5.6 PPG, 0.2 RPG, 4.3 APG (Buffalo)
7: Javon Bennett (5-10, 155, So.)
2022-23 stats: 9.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.4 APG (Merrimack)
8: Nate Santos (6-7, 190, So.)
2022-23 stats: 1.6 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 0.2 APG (Pitt)
9: Marvel Allen (6-4, 200, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 139 recruit
Dayton Flyers MVP: Da’Ron Holmes
Since the moment Holmes stepped into a Flyers uniform, he has dominated his competition and piled up accolades. Holmes has been a member of the all-conference team, all-defensive team, and all-conference tournament team in both seasons, while also earning A10 Rookie of the Year and A10 Tournament MVP.
Holmes produced his 18.4 points per game last season with incredible volume and efficiency. Holmes was one of just ten players nationally with a usage rate above 27.0 and a field goal percentage above 60%.
He is dominant on the interior on both ends, functioning mostly as a back-to-the-basket big, with the ability to knock down the occasional jump shot. Even when you know what the offensive game plan is, you can not stop it with Holmes. That is the definition of a superstar.
Dayton Flyers make-or-break player: Isaac Jack
As you can see, Dayton is undersized, especially from one through three. Of course, this is not the end of the world when you have a big like Holmes but he cannot possibly play 40 minutes each game.
We project Jack to be the first off the bench for the Flyers and a breakout sophomore season for the 6’11” Buffalo transfer is pivotal. Being the center to spell Holmes and ensure the drop off in production is not as drastic is a major responsibility. Perhaps even more importantly, Jack could step up and play alongside Holmes to compile Dayton’s biggest possible lineup. Since he does not have an outside shot though, the paint could easily get clogged in this instance.
Key analytic: 45.0% effective field goal defense
On a points scored-per-shot-against basis, Dayton led the A10 in 2022-23. This was mostly due to their ability to protect the rim and force difficult two-point shots. The perimeter defense was good, not great.
Sustaining this metric is another key for Dayton to finally live up to their talent. An undersized backcourt certainly does not help, especially with a non-aggressive scheme that hinges on forcing long possessions. However, the pieces are there for Dayton to have a top-50 defense. Holding opponents in the 60’s and getting Holmes 12 to 15 shots a game is a feasible plan.
Projected conference finish: 1st in the A10
Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Round of 32