Stickers from close to 40 colleges plaster the door to the guidance counselor’s office at Holy Name High School. The winged “D” logo from the University of Dayton adorns one side.
One student played a large role in bringing college basketball coaches — former Dayton coach Archie Miller and current Dayton coach Anthony Grant among them — from many of the schools represented on that door to the gym over the last couple of years. His name is Dwayne Cohill. He’s a 6-foot-2 senior guard who’s the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,931 points and counting.
Many of the biggest names in the sport traveled to Parma Heights, a south suburb of Cleveland, to see Cohill play.
“I walked into the gym for an open gym, and there’s big Bob Huggins,” said Holy Name Athletic Director Richard Kozub on Tuesday. “Oh my gosh, to see all these people come to watch him play — Thad Matta coming to a couple of games — you’re just like, ‘This is amazing.’ It’s something big for us. We’re not used to having that here at Holy Name. That kind of adds to the mystique of Dwayne and all that goes along with him.”
» PHOTOS: Cohill in action on Tuesday
Cohill stopped the parade of coaches coming to Holy Name by committing to Dayton in September and signing in November. He chose the Dayton Flyers over the likes of Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt.
Cohill is the fifth-ranked 2018 recruit in Ohio, according to 247Sports.com, which ranks him 121st in the nation. Rivals.com ranks him 96th. Both web sites list him as a four-star recruit.
Cohill is Dayton’s lone 2018 recruit at this point, though UD’s coaches continue to recruit for one other open scholarship. He plans to enroll at UD in the second summer session. He’s also eagerly anticipating seeing the Flyers play live at UD Arena for the first time on Feb. 17 against Fordham.
“The Flyer Faithful, man,” Cohill said. “It’s going to be great getting to see them for the first time just being in that atmosphere and just getting to see my future teammates play.”
Cohill scored 29 points on 12-of-16 shooting Tuesday in three quarters of action in a 102-72 victory against Elyria Catholic. He sat out the first quarter for a team rules violation. It was still a close game when he entered the game, but Holy Name pulled away in the third quarter.
“I thought tonight he was really focused,” Holy Name coach Jeff Huber said. “Some games he’s so talented he coasts a little bit. We talked about keeping the pedal to the metal and playing to your full potential. I thought tonight he really did that. He influenced the game on both ends of the floor. In that third quarter, he helped us get some distance and put that game out of reach.”
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The Green Wave, ranked 10th in the state in Division II, improved to 12-2. Cohill increased his scoring average to 22.8 points per game in 14 games.
Cohill has made 20 of 50 3-pointers (40 percent), 91 of 146 2-pointers (62.3 percent) and 49 of 67 free throws (73.1 percent). He averaged 3.0 assists, 3.0 steals and 5.0 rebounds per game. All those stats make him a contender for the biggest prize in Ohio basketball.
“I’m still in the running for Mr. Basketball,” Cohill said, “which is something I’ve had as a goal since I came into high school. I think it’s going really well. As long as I stay healthy, I think it’ll be something I can do.”
Dayton’s Anthony Solomon was the assistant coach in charge of recruiting Cohill. He remembers head coach Anthony Grant’s initial excitement when Grant saw Cohill play on the first recruiting weekend last April, not long after Grant was hired.
Grant liked Cohill’s ability to play point guard or shooting guard, his effort in games and skill level and athleticism. Miller and his staff had backed off on recruiting Cohill because they didn’t think they could get him, Cohill said in September, but Grant and his staff made Cohill their No. 1 priority all spring and summer from the moment they saw him play.
“We never stopped from that day on,” Solomon said. “We continued to recruit Dwayne as the primary prospect for us.”
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Every day, Cohill would hear from Dayton. Solomon said the coaches never wavered. Outside of his family members, he talked or texted or wrote no one more than Cohill during that time.
Cohill’s verbal commitment in September showed what the new coaching staff can do in recruiting.
“I thought Dwayne picked the right school for the right reasons,” Solomon said. “He was able to feel our desire to have him join the Flyer community. Not only did we want him, but there was a need. He did his research along with his mom and some other friends. He was able to see our vision for him in our program.”
Solomon has remained in touch with Cohill this winter and has already started preparing him for college basketball.
“He follows us constantly,” Solomon said. “I try to help him follow us. Once you make a decision, I think it’s important to start watching. I ask him, ‘What are you seeing when you watch us play this year?’ I think the transition from high school to college is not easy, but a way to close that gap is to have meaningful conversations about what we’re trying to accomplish even though he’s not here and what we’re trying to get out of the guard position.”
Dayton’s struggles this year have not dampened Cohill’s enthusiasm. The Flyers are 10-11 and 4-5 in the Atlantic 10 heading into a 2 p.m. Saturday game at Massachusetts.
“I think this year’s team has a chance to be really good,” Cohill said. “They’re just struggling with trying to find their identity. Guys are playing hard. Everyone looks like they’re getting better. Darrell (Davis) and Josh (Cunningham) are having great seasons.”
Cohill’s mom, Jo Anne Williams, watched Tuesday’s game at Holy Name from the front row at center court. She showed a reporter a baby photo of her son on her phone as she talked at halftime.
Cohill’s first sport was football, Williams said. He was a quarterback and a good one. He started playing basketball in fifth grade.
“I told him to just focus on one sport,” Williams said. “Doing both of them is good, but then also you want to give other kids a chance to play. Since he seemed to enjoy basketball more, I told him do the basketball, but if he wanted to do the football, I would support him.”
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Williams said the recruiting process was stressful, though her son has done a good job in the classroom. She said he has a 3.7 grade-point average. Picking Dayton in the fall “kind of freed his mind,” Williams said.
Williams traveled to Dayton with Cohill in early September for his official visit. She watched him interact with Dayton’s coaches and players and knew which way he was leaning when she saw the smile on his face on the last day of their visit.
“I knew he felt this is what home is,” Williams said. “That’s what he was looking for, a place he can consider home.”
Before Cohill starts his college career, he wants to lead Holy Name deep into the state tournament. The Green Wave won a district championship last season. As soon as the season ends, he’ll start turning more of his attention to the Flyers.
“I want the season to keep going for as long as it can, but I’m ready to get down there,” Cohill said. “Just watching them on TV, I’m like, ‘Man, I could be helping them.’ And just watching the way coach Grant interacts with his players, that’s something I need to be a part of. And the fans, they show up to every game.”
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