Dayton sophomore labeled one of college basketball’s most intriguing players

DaRon Holmes II ranked among nation’s top dunkers last season while setting UD freshman record for blocks in a season

The Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook predicts DaRon Holmes II will win the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Award, and Brian Hamilton, of The Athletic, ranked Holmes among the 20 most intriguing players in college basketball entering the 2022-23 season.

With Dayton’s stock rising on the national scene, Holmes is also getting attention. Hamilton made it clear the 20 players on his list weren’t necessarily the best players in college basketball, just the ones with “particularly compelling roles or circumstances.”

“By way of introduction,” Hamilton write, “for those who may not be familiar with the 6-10 big man operating along the banks of the (Great) Miami River: Holmes was the No. 38 recruit in the Class of 2021, and thereby the highest-rated prospect ever to sign with Dayton. He delivered via earning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year honors and a spot on the league’s All-Defensive Team and All-Conference teams, period. The Flyers are a souped-up mid-major that should be a preseason Top 25 team and Holmes is the lodestar, and that’s interesting enough. What fascinates us most is the track Holmes is on, and what — or, more specifically, whom — it evokes.”

Hamilton then compared the freshman stats of Holmes and Obi Toppin, the only two players in UD history to win the A-10 Rookie of the Year Award.

Toppin has a 120.9 offensive rating in his first season, according to KenPom.com, and Holmes had almost the same number (120.5). They both ranked among the nation’s top dunkers. Holmes had 82 dunks in his first season (sixth in the nation). Toppin dunked 84 times (third in the nation). Holmes set a UD freshman record with 81 blocks. Toppin blocked 28 shots in his first season.

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“They appear to be wired a bit differently, yes, given Holmes’ superior rim protection and Toppin’s ability to do more offensively, in less time, as a freshman,” Hamilton wrote. “But the distinctions don’t entirely disqualify the similarities. How Holmes’ second season evolves, and how closely (or not) it mirrors the development pace of Dayton’s last impact big — that’s the curiosity.”

The Blue Ribbon Yearbook quoted Dayton associate head coach Ricardo Greer talking about Holmes in its preview of Dayton.

“Last year, we saw toward the end of the year, we could play offense through him in the post,” Greer said. “We’ll just continue to help him continue to grow. I think the biggest thing he does for us is on the defensive end. He’s just phenomenal on that side of the ball.”

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