ANALYSIS: An early look at Dayton’s 2024-25 roster

Flyers have three newcomers on what is now an 11-man roster

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

The 2024-25 Dayton Flyers roster could be unique in one respect when compared to coach Anthony Grant’s first seven teams: unless the coaches add a member of the class of 2024 to the mix in the weeks ahead, it will be the first team in Grant’s tenure with no true freshmen.

That would make the 2024-25 team the first in UD history during the age when freshmen are eligible — since 1972 — to not have a true freshman on the roster.

Dayton did not sign a 2024 recruit on Signing Day in November. Its only newcomers (Zed Key, Jacob Conner and Posh Alexander), at this point, come from the transfer portal.

Dayton had three freshmen on the roster last season, though only one (Petras Padegimas, who transferred to Mercer this spring) played and two (Jaiun Simon and Marvel Allen) redshirted. Two years ago, Dayton had one freshman (Mike Sharavjamts).

Assuming DaRon Holmes II elects to keep his name in the NBA Draft, Dayton still has two scholarships open. Holmes told reporters in Chicago at the NBA Draft Combine on Tuesday he is “way more confident (about staying in the draft) this year.”

There is plenty of time to add another player or two to the 2024-25 roster. Dayton added Pittsburgh transfer Nate Santos in mid-June last season. Four years ago, it added Southern California transfer Elijah Weaver in late May. In 2018, it signed Nebraska transfer Jordy Tshimanga in early August.

Dayton left one scholarship open last season but only because the 13th scholarship player (Vasilije Erceg) left the program after a brief stay on campus in the summer. That was the fourth time in seven seasons the Flyers began the season with 12 scholarship players. The open scholarship went to walk-on Brady Uhl in January.

Even with two open spots on the roster, now is as good a time as any to look at the 2024-25 team. The list below does not include Holmes but will be updated if he returns and also will be updated as new players commit. The 11-man group includes five players (Santos, Key, Alexander, Enoch Cheeks and Brady Uhl) entering their final year of eligibility, so Dayton likely will have another busy recruiting period next spring.

The years listed are the years these players will be next season.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Returning starters

Santos, 6-foot-7, senior, forward: Santos, of Geneva, Ill., ranked second on the team in scoring (11.7 points per game) and rebounding (6.3) in his first season at Dayton. He was the team’s second-best 3-point shooter (51 of 122, 41.8%). He led the team in minutes (33.5).

Santos was one of four players to start all 33 games last season for a team that finished 25-8. The Flyers played in the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years and won a tournament game for the first time in nine years.

Santos played his first two seasons at Pittsburgh and transferred to Dayton last June. He announced April 28 he would enter the portal but changed his mind and announced six days later he will play his final season of college basketball at Dayton.

Cheeks, 6-3, fifth-year senior, guard: Cheeks, of Providence, R.I.: ranked sixth on the team in scoring (8.1). He led the team with 40 steals. He shot 30.4% from 3-point range (24 of 79). He ranked third on the team in minutes (30.6). He started all 33 games.

Cheeks played his first three seasons at Robert Morris, averaging 15.4 points, 3.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds in his third season at Robert Morris. Like Key, Alexander and Uhl, he has a fifth season of eligibility because the NCAA didn’t count the 2020-21 season, his freshman season, against anyone’s eligibility.

Javon Bennett, 5-10, junior guard: Bennett, of Orlando., Fla., ranked fifth on the team in scoring (8.4) and second on the team in assists (3.3) behind Kobe Elvis (3.5), who transferred to Oklahoma after the season. Bennett shot 31.6% from 3-point range (42 of 133).

Bennett took over the starting point guard role when Malachi Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first game of the season. Bennett missed the last two games of the regular season with a thumb injury.

Bennett played his freshman season at Merrimack, averaging 9.6 points, 3.4 assists and 2.9 steals.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Other returners

Isaac Jack, 6-11, junior, forward: Jack, of Port Alberni, B.C., appeared in all 33 games in his first season at Dayton, averaging 8.5 minutes per game. He averaged 3.1 points and 1.6 rebounds. He backed up the All-American Holmes, who averaged 32.5 points and led the team in scoring (20.4) and rebounding (8.5).

Jack played double-digit minutes six times in 12 non-conference games but only four times in 18 Atlantic 10 Conference games. He played a total of 14 minutes in three postseason games but had six points in eight minutes in the victory against Nevada.

Jack played his freshman season at Buffalo, averaging 5.6 points and 4.2 rebounds.

Smith, 6-0, redshirt junior, guard: Smith, of Bronx, N.Y., suffered a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 6 and underwent surgery two days later. During the NCAA tournament, he gave this update on his rehabilitation.

“I’m probably a couple weeks out from getting on the court and doing skill stuff,” Smith said. “I’ve been doing some change of direction, some functional stuff. I’m just getting used to moving. I’m trying not to rush it.”

Smith received a medical redshirt because he played in only one game last season. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining. He battled ankle injuries in his first two seasons but started 46 games and averaged 8.6 and 5.4 points.

Uhl, 6-2, fifth-year guard: An Alter graduate, Uhl averaged 2.7 points in 12 appearances last season. He sometimes filled the role of designated foul-giver at the end of the first half. When Bennett missed a game at Saint Louis in March, Uhl played 13 minutes and made 1 of 3 3-pointers.

Uhl has played three seasons at Dayton after starting his career at the University of Cumberlands, a NAIA school in Kentucky.

Simon, 6-6, redshirt freshman, forward: Simon, of Mableton, Ga., has four seasons of eligibility remaining because UD redshirted him last season. He played with the scout team most of the season but underwent surgery March 8 to fix a chronic injury. He had an extra bone in his ankle that needed to be removed. It started bothering him in December, and he was told he would need surgery in February.

Simon had enough recovery time to travel with the team to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the NCAA tournament. He said then the rehabilitation process will take about 2½ months.

Allen, 6-4, redshirt freshman, guard: Allen, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., also redshirted last season. Like Simon, he has four seasons of eligibility remaining.

Allen suffered a lower-body injury in the week before the season opener and returned to practice Dec. 12. The decision to redshirt him was made final in late December.

“I want to play, but unfortunately for me with the injury, the best thing for me was to redshirt,” Allen said in March. “It’s just been a learning experience. Seeing the system, learning where I can fit in and just practicing the routines daily.”

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Newcomers

Zed Key, 6-8, graduate student, forward: Key, of Bayshore, N.Y., played the last four seasons at Ohio State. He scored 895 points in 121 games. Last season, he averaged 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 36 games.

Jacob Conner, 6-10, junior, forward: The Alter grad Conner played the last two seasons at Marshall. He started 32 of 33 games as a sophomore and averaged 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Posh Alexander, 6-0, fifth-year, guard: Alexander, of Brooklyn, N.Y., played his first three seasons at St. John’s and last season at Butler, where he averaged 11.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.2 steals and started all 32 games.

About the Author