Looking back on John Horan, the Dayton Flyers’ lesser-known rebounding great

Earlier this week, we published a quiz asking how much do people knew about Dayton Flyers basketball history. The question most people missed was about the University of Dayton’s all-time leading rebounder.

The correct answer was John Horan.

Horan played for the Dayton Flyers from 1951-55 and holds the record for career rebounds at 1,341. Don May is in second place at 1,301, and Bill Uhl is third with 1,289.

Horan is also No. 10 on the Flyers all-time scoring list, with 1,757 points.

Because so many people missed this question, we decided to remind Flyers nation of the player nicknamed “The Vertical Hyphen.”

Freshman year

Horan came to Dayton from Minneapolis and the St. Thomas Military Academy. He was able to play four seasons because the NCAA made freshmen eligible in the 1951-52 season during the Korean War. Before that, freshman did not play.

Horan weighed a mere 161 pounds when he reported for his first University of Dayton basketball practice in 1951.

Monk Meineke, one of Horan’s Flyers teammates, recalled Horan joining the team, saying, “He was the skinniest guy I ever saw in a uniform,” Meineke said. “He had the craziest physique I’ve still ever seen. It didn’t look like there was a muscle in either leg going down to those huge feet, but he could do it all on a basketball floor.”

The 1951-52 Flyers made it to the NCAA Sweet 16 and NIT title game with players like Monk Meinke, Chuck Grigsby, John Horan and Junior Norris. Dayton lost to La Salle in the NIT championship game.

Sophomore year

Horan was 6′8″ and played center his freshman year. He was set to move to forward his second year with the arrival of 7′0″ Bill Uhl. The team tried this arrangement for a few games before it was decided to move Horan back to center for the remainder of the season.

Uhl later developed as a player and took control of the center position for Horan’s last two seasons. Horan moved over to forward, where he continued to excel.

That year, Horan played every minute when the Flyers ended No. 1 ranked Seton Hall’s 25-game winning streak.

Junior and senior years

Horan was a star his final two seasons, playing alongside fellow senior teammates Jack Sallee and Chris Harris his final season.

Dayton finished 25-4 in Horan’s senior year, 1955, and lost the NIT championship game to Duquesne.

That season he averaged 18.4 points and 13.3 rebounds a game.


In 1954 Horan was selected for the All-Ohio team by the Associated Press, United Press and International News Service. He was on Xavier’s All-Opponents team and was named Dayton’s Agonis Club top University of Dayton athlete of the year, an award he would win twice.

In 1955 Horan made the pre-season All-America team and was later named to the Associated Press and UPI all-National Invitational Tournament teams.

Horan was named UD team MVP for the 1952-53 and 1954-55 seasons.

The White-Allen Auto Group Inc. has a longer history as a corporate sponsor of Dayton Flyers athletics than any other company. The White-Allen MVP award has been handed out to the UD men’s basketball team’s top player every year since 1953, starting with John Horan.

Horan was enshrined in the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.


Horan was selected in the 1955 NBA draft (first round, sixth overall) by the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. He was in the NBA for just one season. playing in a total of 19 games.

On joining the Pistons, Horan said, “They have one of the best organizations in the league. They pay well, travel well and live better than most of the others.” A bonus was that his former Dayton teammate Monk Meineke was also on the team.

But Horan didn’t stay with the team long, after being traded by the Pistons after playing just 7 games he landed with the Minneapolis Lakers. Again, he had a short stay, playing just 12 games there.

After leaving the NBA, Horan played for the Dayton Collegians for a time. The Collegians were a group of former Dayton players that held exhibitions against professional teams and other college alumni teams.

After basketball

After his short NBA career, Horan moved back to Dayton. When asked why he didn’t to back to his native Minnesota, Horan said, ““There isn’t any reason for any person to make a name for himself in an area and then leave it when it comes time to go into business.”

Horan worked in sales at the National Cash Register Co. for almost 10 years.

In 1967, Horan established and opened John Horan Inc. a business Machine Training school, at 41 E. First St. The school specialized in teaching how to use National Cash Register Co. equipment for various professions.

He and his wife, Eileen, had four children, Colleen, Kelly, Casey and John Riley Jr.

Horan and his family moved from Dayton to his native Rochester, Minn. in 1973. He became a tennis enthusiast and operated a tennis center there.

Health issues

Horan was only 30 years old when his heart problem developed. It was in 1963 that he underwent a major bypass operation, with more heart surgeries to follow in 1972 and 1979.

He did in 1980 at the age of 47.