Everyone remembers their first dunk. It’s a flashbulb moment seared into the consciousness. Years of trying and dreaming conclude with one unforgettable moment.
The Dayton Flyers revisited their first dunks last week after posing for a team photo on Media Day at the Cronin Center. None of the players asked to look back at their first dunk hesitated before finding the memory. Some of them recalled their dunk in explicit detail.
» PHOTOS: Dayton poses for team picture
Every scholarship player on the team can dunk. Walk-on guard Jack Westerfield said he has dunked, though he can’t anymore.
While there are many questions about the team as whole entering the 2018-19 season, there’s little doubt this team will shake the rims. It did often last year. That’s one reason it shot 59.5 percent from 2-point range.
“There’s going to be a lot of dunks,” junior guard Trey Landers said.
“It’s going to be a fun team,” redshirt junior forward Ryan Mikesell said. “That’s going to be a little different. We have some guys who can fly around.”
Landers, redshirt senior forward Josh Cunningham and redshirt freshman forward Obi Toppin likely will provide the most highlights this year, though freshman forward Frankie Policelli, junior guard Jhery Matos and freshman guard Dwayne Cohill also have highlight-reel ability. Mikesell said he has half a dunk in his career but anticipates more.
“I have a few dunks in practice,” Mikesell said. “I can dunk. I just really haven’t gotten many opportunities. Hopefully, this year, we can get out in fast break.”
Jordan Davis and Jalen Crutcher each had one dunk in their freshman seasons. Crutcher’s came in the game at Mississippi State. He had a large family cheering section at that game.
“There’s more to come,” Crutcher said. “I might dunk on someone this year.”
That’s something to look forward to. Here are dunks to look back on Dayton players’ early days on the court. These are the answers to the question: Do you remember your first dunk?
Cunningham: “I was 13 years old, and it was at my eighth-grade school.”
Westerfield: “The first time was senior year in high school. Not in a game or anything, just practice. But it’s happened. The first and probably last, but it counts.”
Mikesell: “Going into my freshman year, it was an after an open gym. I remember what hoop it was on. We were in the St. Henry gym. It was on the far hoop away side. It’s a clear memory. I was 14. After every open gym, I was trying to dunk. I knew I was close. I knew I was going to get it. Finally, I got it and freaked out.”
Landers: “It was eighth grade, the Nike City Series. I was actually playing with Roderick (Caldwell). We got a fast break. He passed me the ball. People were saying, ‘Dunk it. Dunk it.’ I didn’t think I could because I had tried and couldn’t make it. I had a fast break, and I dunked that thing. I’ll always remember that. I’ll never forget that.”
Davis: “It was my sophomore year. I just tried it after practice.”
Crutcher: “I was a sophomore in high school, so I was probably like 15. It was after practice.”
Toppin: “Going into my senior year. It was like a walk-through.”
Matos: “I was 14. I was playing in the DR (Dominican Republic). In DR, we have lower baskets. I tried with the lower baskets, and I finally tried it with the higher basket.”
» HISTORY LESSON: Where Dayton has ranked in the poll over the years
Cohill: “My first one was probably going into the seventh grade, and my first in-game dunk was in the seventh grade. I might have been 12 or 13. It was a big deal because I always thought I could dunk. I thought I had a lot of bounce. And then I finally got my dunk. It was fun. Then every workout, I was always trying to dunk all the time.”
Policelli: “I was 12 or 13. I was in the seventh grade. It was at the end of practice. I was like, ‘I’m going to see if I can dunk.’ And I’ve done it ever since.”
Chattanooga transfer Rodney Chatman: “It was after practice my 10th-grade year. I was trying for a little time, and somebody threw me an alley-oop and I finally dunked.”
Michigan transfer Ibi Watson: “The first time I dunked was in eighth grade at the Athens Rec Center. I’ll never forget it. I went crazy. I was excited.”
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