Dayshon “Scoochie” Smith showed during a practice last week why he was a top-150 national recruit and arrived at Dayton with much fanfare.
The 6-foot-2 point guard from New York City caught the ball on the wing, froze a defender with a killer cross-over dribble and then beat a center protecting the basket by flipping a layup high on the glass with just the right spin to drop in.
The play drew a high-five from excited assistant Kevin Kuwik and appreciative smiles from many of the players.
Smith still has to beef up his Q-tip-like frame and develop a commitment to defense, but he appears to have a skill set on offense that will make him an instant contributor this season.
“I look at Dayshon Smith as being a guy who has a chance to be electric with the ball in his hands in transition,” coach Archie Miller said. “He’s the type of point guard from an offensive perspective that, as a young guy, really sees the game a little differently.”
Khari Price is considered the heir apparent to the graduated Kevin Dillard, an All-Atlantic 10 point guard and the Flyers’ leading scorer the last two seasons. But Miller can see Smith sharing time with the 6-foot sophomore at that position.
“From a physical standpoint, from a defensive standpoint, from the grind of the year for a young kid, (Smith) is going to have his normal challenges. But I like the one-two punch. I really do. I think, if all season long, both guys are about the right things, we’ll have a chance to have good point-guard play,” Miller said.
Price missed several games last season with a deep thigh bruise but earned major minutes when he was healthy, sometimes sliding to the 2-guard spot to play beside Dillard.
The Louisiana product averaged only 2.8 points, but he was perhaps the team’s top defender and was trustworthy with the ball. He averaged only one turnover every 22 minutes on the floor.
“I don’t think whoever wins that job will ever be rock solid in terms of having it every day,” Miller said. “But Khari’s got great experience. He’s a leader. Defensively, he’s as good as we have, and he understands our system.
“But I look at our young players like I looked at our young players last year. They have a right to come in and earn an opportunity to play or start or do whatever they want to do. That‘s what we give here.”
Price was challenged by Miller to improve offensively in the offseason. He shot 35.3 percent from the field, 41.0 on 3-pointers and 76.2 at the foul line last season.
“This year, I’m more aggressive. I’m looking for my shot a little more,” Price said. “I’m still playing defense, but I’m more confident at the offensive end.
“My goal is to improve my range and be more aggressive going toward the basket. That’s something that we definitely worked on in the offseason, and I think it’s going to pay off.”
Price welcomes the competition from Smith, knowing the Flyers can only improve by having a surplus of high-caliber players to throw into the mix.
“Scooch is going to come in and do well,” Price said. “He’s a good point guard and a great guy. He’s working hard with us. We definitely get along on and off the court. I think we’ll definitely be a great one-two punch.”
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