DaRon Holmes II on his return Dayton: ‘We love the city; we love the team’

UD forward wants to boost his stock for NBA in third season while seeking team success

Dayton Flyers forward DaRon Holmes II had a workout scheduled with the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday after one with the Houston Rockets on Tuesday. After a cancelled flight forced him to miss the Sacramento trip, he flew home to Phoenix instead.

Then Holmes sat down with his parents, his two younger brothers and a cousin to talk about his decision. Should he keep his name in consideration for the NBA Draft or return to UD for his junior season?

“It wasn’t like a crazy, long discussion,” Holmes said. “We just listed what we felt would be the best option. We thought Dayton was the best option all around. We love it. We love the city. We love the team. We trust the coaching staff. We think that’s a perfect place for me next year.”

Holmes called his coaches and his agent to let them know his decision: he would return the Flyers. He announced the news on Twitter at 8:51 p.m., or 5:51 p.m. at their home in Goodyear, Ariz. That was about three hours before the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft and maintain their college eligibility.

After entering his name in the draft on April 23, Holmes participated in the NBA Draft Combine in May and alsoworked out for the Boston Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Los Angeles Lakers and finally the Houston Rockets. He would have worked out for the Utah Jazz on Thursday if he had stayed in the draft.

“It was a hard decision,” Holmes said. “It kind of did come down to (Wednesday) I wasn’t leaning one way. My gut told me to come back. I felt like I could have went somewhere in the second round, but honestly, I wanted to boost my stock and try to get to the first round. I think Dayton has what it takes for me to do that. Also I think the team has unfinished business. I want to win games.”

Dayton has just missed out on NCAA tournament berths in Holmes’ first two seasons. It was the first team left out of the at-large picture in 2022 when he was a freshman, and it blew an 11-point lead in the second half in a 66-58 loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the Atlantic 10 Conference championship game in March. Dayton missed its final 15 shots.

Holmes scored 28 points in the game and was named the most outstanding player of the tournament. He was the first player to win the award from a losing team since Pat Carroll of Saint Joseph’s in 2005.

Dayton is 46-23 in Holmes’ first two seasons with two second-place finishes in the A-10 regular-season standings. It hoisted the trophy at the ESPN Events Invitational early in his freshman season but finished last at the Battle 4 Atlantis last November.

Holmes has been the most dependable Flyer over the last two seasons. He has started all 39 games in his career. The 2022-23 season will sting, however, until the 2023-24 season begins.

“It’s just unfortunate,” Holmes said. “We had some stuff going on with injuries. All around, it’s not the easiest, but I think the third time’s a charm.”

The return of Holmes gives Dayton a chance to return to the top of the A-10 for the first time since 2020 and play in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2017.

Coach Anthony Grant talked about the return of Holmes on Thursday outside the coaches’ offices at the Cronin Center on campus. It was his first basketball-related interview since the loss to VCU.

“We’re really excited to get a guy of his caliber back, obviously,” Grant said. “I think he’s one of the premier players in not only in the A-10, but across the country.”

Over the last month, Holmes learned from NBA teams what his game needs. Now it’s up to the Dayton coaches to help him with that over the next year.

“He’s 20 years old,” Grant said, “so I think he would have been one of the younger guys in the draft. I think the natural development, the progress that you want to see a guy make from his freshman to sophomore year to his junior year, just the experience will help him. I think the things he’s learned over this experience will help him. We’ve just got to continue to add things and continue to develop his game.”

Holmes lost weight during the workout process but should quickly regain that when he returns to campus to train with strength coach Casey Cathrall.

Holmes said the NBA teams “want to see me get bigger and do better with my body movements and then be able to knock down shots consistently, not just from the perimeter, but also just around the basket and in the free throw percentage. Just all around get better and be consistent and keep things simple.”

Holmes planned to return to campus on Friday. He’ll sign autographs for fans from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at White Allen Chevrolet at 442 North Main St. in downtown Dayton.

Holmes will soon get to know his new teammates. Marvel Allen, Enoch Cheeks, Javon Bennett and Isaac Jack are all on campus. Jaiun Simon was scheduled to arrive Thursday, and Vasile Erceg sometime later this month.

“I think it’s a special group honestly,” Holmes said. ”I think we’re going to be good. We’ve got some new pieces, some key pieces, great defenders, great athleticism.No, I think it’s a new pieces and key pieces, you know, great, the fingers great athleticism. I think this team is going to be solid.”

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