Anthony Grant: Dayton freshmen adjusting well in first weeks on campus

Dayton players (left to right) Jordy Tshimanga, Moulaye Sissoko and Chase Johnson watch from the bench during a game against Charleston Southern on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, at UD Arena.
Dayton players (left to right) Jordy Tshimanga, Moulaye Sissoko and Chase Johnson watch from the bench during a game against Charleston Southern on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, at UD Arena.

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Flyers returned to UD the week of July 13

All the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball players had different situations in the fourth months between the end of the season March 12 and their return to campus the week of July 12.

The coronavirus pandemic scattered the players all over their country in their hometowns. Jalen Crutcher had the chance to play real, live basketball, even sharing a court with NBA star Ja Morant in Memphis. Ibi Watson was home with his mom in Pickerington. Jordy Tshimanga shared a number of videos on Instagram of himself working out at home in Montreal.

Now all 12 of Dayton’s scholarship players, including four newcomers and two other players who have never played a college game, are on the University of Dayton campus, preparing for a season they hope starts on time in November.

ExploreFlyers focusing on conditioning, individual skills

Dayton coach Anthony Grant spoke to the Dayton Daily News on Monday in his first interview since May. Here’s what he had to say about the team:

Q: How have the first three weeks gone for the the three freshmen: Koby Brea, R.J. Blakney and Lukas Frazier?

A: Those guys have come in and adjusted well to being away from home. It’s unique because right now they’re the only ones on campus. They’re the first group that had to go through this in terms of having online classes walking in the door and not actually being in the classroom and not having other students on campus. Overall, I think they’ve adjusted well, and they get a chance to get to know their teammates and our staff and just get familiar with being at work so to speak without having the benefit of getting the feel for campus and class and those things.

Q: Jalen Crutcher announced Sunday he will return for his senior season instead of keeping his name in the NBA Draft. What were your discussions like with him about that decision in recent months?

A: It was about educating himself about the process and have a chance to get an idea of what it looks like. He had a chance to talk to several teams through the process and hopefully get a feel for how they feel about him. He benefited from that. We’re excited to have him back. I feel he’s got a chance to really elevate his standing in terms of the next level.

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Q: Chase Johnson has returned to the program after medically withdrawing from school in January? How is he doing now, and how did he decide to come back?

A: Chase and I maintained contact through texts or phone calls throughout the time after he left. The decision to come back was a family decision, one that myself and Chase and our administration and our medical staff were all in agreement with. We felt he was prepared to do that and wanting to do that. When the time came back to get him back here, he was really excited, and I know everybody in our program was excited to have him back. He’s gotten right back into the swing of things with basketball. He looks good physically. He’s doing well.

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Q: University of Southern California transfer Elijah Weaver has to sit out the season, but how will he help you in practice?

A: His plan is to redshirt this year and take this year as an opportunity to learn our system and get familiar with his teammates and help our current team continue to move forward and improve. He’s been really good. A great young man. He comes with some experience, having played two years at USC. He’s maybe different from the freshmen from that standpoint, but he’s another guy that has to get acclimated to Dayton and our campus.