Dayton Flyers coaches long ago made their mark in New York City by recruiting the likes of Roosevelt Chapman, Scoochie Smith and, more recently, Obi Toppin.
The teams of the near future will have a heavy New York accent, too. Koby Brea, of the Bronx, joined the program this summer. Malachi Smith, a 6-foot guard also from the Bronx, committed to Dayton on Saturday, becoming the first 2021 recruit to pick the Flyers.
“Mali’s been an underdog his whole life,” said Chris Williams, the assistant coach at Smith’s high school, St. Raymond High School School for Boys. “I know he’s going to put in the work and do everything he needs to do on and off the court to continue that great culture and tradition coach grant is building.”
Dayton has recruited a number of players from the New York City area since Grant was hired in 2017 in part because assistant coach Ricardo Greer is from the city and still has strong ties there.
Toppin, who grew up in Brooklyn and went to high school north of New York in Ossining, was the second recruit Grant landed in the spring of 2017. Jhery Matos, who was attending Monroe College in the Bronx when he committed to Dayton, was another recruit with New York ties. Brea graduated from Monsignor Scanlan, 1½ miles from St. Raymond. Both schools play in the Catholic High School Athletic Association of the Archdiocese of New York.
“They’ve done a great job identifying players who are hard working and who have a great family support system,” Williams said. “By having Koby and Mali both from our league, that’s big time. Dayton isn’t just your average A-10 program. It’s one of the top programs in the country right now.”
Smith is the 16th player to commit to Dayton during the Grant era. Here’s a by-the-numbers breakdown of those players.
7: Dayton has added players from seven different states during Grant’s tenure.
• New York (4): Toppin; Frankie Policelli (New Hartford); Brea; and Smith.
• Ohio (3): Dwayne Cohill (Cleveland); Ibi Watson (Pickerington) and Lukas Frazier (Painesville).
• Florida (2): Zimi Nwokeji (Tallahassee) and Elijah Weaver (Cocoa)
• Tennessee (1): Jalen Crutcher (Memphis).
• Georgia (1): Rodney Chatman (Lithonia).
• West Virginia (1): Chase Johnson (Ripley).
• Maryland (1): R.J. Blakney (Baltimore).
5: Dayton has added five transfers from Division I programs: Watson (Michigan); Chatman (Chattanooga); Tshimanga (Nebraska); Johnson (Florida); and Weaver (Southern California).
3: Dayton has added three players from other countries: Matos (Dominican Republic); Jordy Tshimanga (Canada); and Moulaye Sissoko (Mali).
2: Dayton has added two top-100 recruits, both of whom were transfers, in the last four years. Half of the 16 players were three-star recruits, according to 247Sports.com composite rankings. Take these rankings for what they’re worth. They’re fun to follow, but by no means do they define any of the players. The fact that Toppin, the consensus national player of the year in 2020, wasn’t ranked by any recruiting website is good proof of that.
Nevertheless, here’s how the players ranked:
• Four stars (3): Weaver (No. 45, 2018 class); Johnson (No. 85, 2017); Cohill (No. 136, 2018).
• Three stars (8): Tshimanga (No. 161, 2016); Smith (No. 197, 2021); Watson (No. 239, 2016); Nwokeji (No. 216, 2019); Policelli (No. 298, 2018); Crutcher (No. 328, 2017); Sissoko (No. 361, 2019); Blakney (No. 408, 2020).
• Two stars (1): Frazier (No. 480, 2020 class).
• Unranked (4): Toppin (2017); Matos (2016); Chatman (2016); and Brea (2020).
2: Two players recruited and signed by Grant and his staff have transferred from the program: Policelli (Stony Brook) and Matos (Charlotte).
That number doesn’t include players recruited during the Archie Miller era who left the program: Xeyrius Williams (Akron); John Crosby (Delaware State); Jordan Davis (Middle Tennessee); Jordan Pierce (Odessa/Middle Tennessee State); and Kostas Antetokounmpo and Matej Svoboda, who both left to pursue professional opportunities.
1: Matos is the only player to commit to Dayton from a junior college since 2017.