An ice storm prevented Frankie Policelli’s parents, Frank and Angie, from joining him on his official visit to the University of Dayton earlier this month. The Policellis live in New Hartford, N.Y., 50 miles east of Syracuse, but Frankie has attended Long Island Lutheran High School, 262 miles away, throughout his senior year. He had no trouble flying out of LaGuardia Airport in New York City.
Policelli, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound forward who’s a three-start recruit, according to 247Sports.com, visited campus on April 15, meeting the Dayton Flyers, talking to coaches, professors and academic advisors, touring UD Arena, doing everything recruits do on official visits.
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Freshman Obadiah Toppin, who’s from New York state like Policelli, was in charge of showing Policelli around.
“I liked the campus and the people and the coaching staff,” Policelli said. “Once I got to campus, everyone was greeting me with smiles and they were really nice. I could picture myself there.”
After returning home and thinking about his college choices, which included Maryland, Illinois, Texas Tech and Cincinnati, Policelli announced his verbal commitment to the Flyers on Monday night. He signed a national letter of intent on Tuesday, making him the third member of the 2018 class and the ninth scholarship player on the 2018-19 roster.
“Frankie will fit very well into the fabric of our campus and community,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “He is highly motivated to achieve success both as a student and an athlete. As a player, he possesses a great combination of size, skill, and athleticism that will fit nicely into our style of play on both ends of the floor.”
While it’s too early to say just how much Dayton will improve after a 14-17 finish last season, Policelli said, “It’s going to be a really fun team. They’re all really outgoing and funny.”
Here are six things to know about Policelli:
One of three: Policelli, turned 18 last week, his dad Frank said, and like every other birthday in his life, Frankie shared it with two other members of his family: his brother Niko and sister Amber. The Policellis are triplets.
“It’s been quite an exciting, fast 18 years, I tell you that much,” said Frank, an attorney in Utica, N.Y.
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The siblings are close, Frankie said.
“Whenever I’m bored, I’ll go to either my sister or brother and say, ‘Let’s go do something,’” Frankie said. “A lot of times we’ll team up on one. If my sister’s being annoying, me and my brother will team up on her, or then it’ll be my sister and brother versus me.”
High school career: As a junior at New Hartford High School, Policelli averaged 28.1 points and 13.0 rebounds. He suffered a partial tear of his meniscus and missed the second half the season.
Policelli decided to transfer to Long Island Lutheran as a senior so he could play against better competition and improve his game.
“It showed him how hard he needs to work,” Long Island Lutheran coach John Buck said. “The level of competition demanded a lot of him. He was able to physically take over previously in high school. He had to learn how to do some different things: move without the ball, defend at a higher level. Hopefully, it’ll prepare him better to take on the transition in college.”
Policelli averaged 12.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game as a senior. He shot 40 percent from 3-point range and 86 percent from the free-throw line.
“He’s playing with five other Division I players,” Buck said. “Twelve points a game is not 12 points a game at your local public school.”
Sad ending: Policelli’s final high school game ended in controversy. Top-ranked Long Island Lutheran lost 76-72 in the Class AA semifinals in March to Stepinac.
An officiating error caused Long Island Lutheran to be assessed a technical foul for calling a timeout in the final seconds. The officials ruled they had no timeouts. Long Island Lutheran protested the decision and used video to prove an error was made. While the officials admitted the error, the protest was dismissed.
“It was crazy,” Policelli said. “I don’t even know if we lost or we won. I still think we should replay the final seconds.”
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Grant and assistant coach Greer attended that game to watch Policelli and two of his teammates they have offered scholarships.
“They were just like, ‘Good game, crazy ending, just looking forward to trying to get you on campus,’” Policelli said. “‘Keep your head up high. You played a good game. Just keep on working.’”
Key recruiter: Greer, who also recruited the last player Dayton signed, Jhery Matos, was the assistant coach in charge of recruiting Policelli. Greer started the recruiting process in November. Dayton offered him a scholarship in January.
“(Greer) just tells it how it is,” Frankie said. “He’s pretty straightforward. He’s funny. He tells you what’s going to happen. This is what Dayton has to offer. There’s no BS. I love that.”
Versatile athlete: Policelli described himself as a good shooter with size. He made six, seven and eight 3-pointers in different games last season.
“I’m pretty versatile, so I can play a couple positions on the floor,” he said, “so I think I can help Dayton using my size and athleticism and shooting ability.”
Right decision: Jay David, an assistant coach at Long Island Lutheran who also coached Policelli with the New York Jayhawks, an AAU team, said Policelli took official visits last fall to Stony Brook and George Washington. Soon, however, he started getting more offers and wanted to wait before making a decision. He also didn’t want to take any official visits during the high school basketball season. That was why he waited until this spring before picking a school. Policelli said Dayton was recruiting him the hardest this spring.
David expects Policelli to be an impact player in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“He’ll be able to provide a spark for Dayton,” David said, “and will be a very good player there. Hopefully, he’s able to reach his goals and aspirations of playing professionally some day.”