Dayton star Holmes makes NBA decision official

After three years with Flyers, Holmes will turn pro

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

The record-setting college basketball career of Dayton Flyers star DaRon Holmes II officially came to an end Wednesday as he announced he will keep his name in consideration for the NBA Draft.

Holmes, a 6-foot-10 forward from Goodyear, Ariz., had until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to make a decision about staying in the draft or returning to college for his final season of eligibility.

“Flyer Faithful, thank you for three amazing seasons of love and support,” Holmes wrote on Instagram. “I have been inspired by the energy and passion you bring to Flyer games, home or away.

“To Coach (Anthony Grant) and all of the Coaching Staff, thank you for the countless hours of investment into me becoming the best version of myself on the court. And, special thanks to AD Neil Sullivan, the Athletic Department and The Dayton 6th for your support in my personal and athletic growth over the past 3 years.

“To my teammates, thank you for being my biggest motivators through the many great moments on and off the court. I will cherish all that we have accomplished together.

“Lastly, to my family, this is the moment we have all dreamt of My goal of playing in the NBA awaits me and I could not have reached this point without you. Let’s Get It!!

“Special thanks to the Altenburg and Fester families, you have provided me home away from home — love you guys.

“With that, I am announcing I will forego my last year of college eligibility and remain in the 2024 Draft. I look forward to writing the next chapter of my career in the NBA.

“As always. GO FLYERS!!”

Holmes starred for the Dayton Flyers for three seasons and led the program to its first NCAA tournament victory in nine years in March. The Flyers rallied from a 17-point deficit in the second half to beat Nevada 63-60 and then lost to Arizona in the second round.

Now the highest-ranked recruit to play for UD in this century hopes to become the fourth player drafted since coach Anthony Grant took over the program in 2017.

Holmes’ dad, DaRon Holmes Sr., talked to the Dayton Daily News on Tuesday about what exploring the draft process was like for his son in May. Holmes II trained in New Jersey earlier this spring because that’s where his agent, Aaron Reilly, is based, Holmes Sr. said.

Holmes II then participated in the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago in mid-May for the second straight year.

“Really the last six weeks has been all about training, staying active, keeping his weight up,” Holmes Sr. said. “I think he finished the season right around 232 or 231. I think he’s up to 236 or 237. It fluctuates day by day. That was probably the biggest disappointment going into the combine last year. He weighed 220 or 221 or something. He had fallen ill the week prior to combine last year so he showed up probably five or six pounds lighter than we expected him to.

“This year, he went to the combine super healthy, super motivated and in a rhythm with his shooting. The combine was pretty much him showing that his shooting was still on par with what he displayed throughout the season. He really didn’t do much else outside of the medical (tests) and the interviews at the combine. He really didn’t have to do much else. He did the agility drills and the shooting drills, and that was pretty much it.”

All signs pointed to Holmes staying in the draft. At the NBA Combine in Chicago earlier this month, Holmes told Kevin Sweeney, of Sports Illustrated, he’s “way more confident (about staying in the draft) this year.”

Last year, Holmes participated in the NBA Combine and worked out with a number of teams but withdrew from the draft just before the deadline last year. If he had stayed in the draft, the experts expected him to go anywhere from late in the first round to late in the second.

That remains the thinking this year. Various mock drafts predict Holmes could go as high as No. 25 or as low as No. 50.

The draft takes place June 26-27 in Brooklyn, N.Y., and New York City.

“This year as opposed to last year,” Holmes Sr. said, “he’s coming in with a lot more momentum, a lot more intrigue from the league.”

A consensus All-American who won the Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Year Award and Defender of the Year award, Holmes averaged 20.4 points. He owns UD career records for blocked shots (215) and dunks (241). He ranks 11th in career scoring (1,745 points) and sixth in career field-goal percentage (.588, 630 of 1071).

Holmes is the only player in UD history to win the team MVP award in his first three years with the program. He’s the only UD player to win the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year Award as a true freshman. The only other Flyer to win the honor, Obi Toppin, was a redshirt freshman when he won it in 2019.

If Holmes is drafted, it will be the first time since the 1950s, Dayton has seen players drafted in back-to-back years. Holmes would also be the fourth player in coach Anthony Grant’s first seven years at UD to be drafted.

• Kostas Antetokounmpo was the 60th and last player picked in the 2018 draft. Prior to that, a Flyer had not been drafted since Negele Knight, a second-round pick in 1990.

• While Antetokounmpo was recruited by Grant’s predecessor, the next Flyer drafted, Obi Toppin, was Grant’s second recruit in 2017. The New York Knicks drafted Toppin with the No. 8 pick in 2020.

• Last year, the Phoenix Suns drafted Toumani Camara in the second round with the No. 52 pick. He was the 39th Dayton player drafted. Camara was later traded to the Portland Trail Blazers.

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