Dayton’s Amzil on entering transfer portal: ‘It was a hard decision, definitely’

Third-year forward has two seasons of eligibility remaining

Mustapha Amzil said last summer he was betting on himself by staying with the Dayton Flyers for a third season. Now he’s making a similar decision in entering the transfer portal.

“I like to bet on myself,” Amzil said Wednesday. “I believe in myself. So where I end up, hopefully it’s the best fit. Everybody tries to find the right fit to have the best chances of playing good. So that’s the goal.”

Amzil, a 6-foot-10 forward from Finland with two seasons of eligibility remaining, announced his decision to enter the transfer portal on Tuesday with a letter addressed to the “Flyer Family” on social media.

“First want to thank the coaching staff for welcoming me as a kid from high school a couple years ago and taking me in to the University of Dayton,” Amzil wrote. “Thank you to all the players who I can now call my brothers and the bond that we’ve built that goes beyond basketball.

“Thank you to the amazing fans and the community of Dayton that have cheered me on during my time here and providing me with a home that will always hold a special place in my heart. I will cherish all the memories and relationships I’ve built during my time here.

“My story is still being written and it is time for me to turn the next page in this story. With that being said, I will continue chasing my dreams and goals by entering my name into the transfer portal.”

Amzil’s decision came one day before teammate R.J. Blakney, another third-year player with two seasons of eligibility remaining, also entered the portal. The Twitter accounts that monitor the portal announced Blakney’s departure.

With the departure of Amzil and Blakney, Dayton will have at least four scholarships to work with this spring and probably more depending on the decisions of other players. They are the first UD players to enter the transfer portal since Tyrone Baker and Kaleb Washington in December.

Amzil didn’t want to speculate on who else from the program might enter the portal. He said there were team meetings and individual meetings with coaches after the season and “everybody makes their own decision.” Asked about the rumors of coach Anthony Grant stepping down after the season, he said he heard nothing of that or seen any signs of such a decision.

Amzil is the 11th player recruited and signed by Grant and his staff to enter the transfer portal. None of the previous 10 players put up bigger numbers than Amzil, who ranked third on the team in scoring (9.3) and rebounds (4.8), before transferring.

Amzil talked his family and the people closes to him about the decision and decided transferring would give him the best option of reaching his goals.

“The NBA is the ultimate goal,” he said. “Everything I do is to help me in getting to that goal.”

Amzil picked up immediate interest from a number of schools. According to a report by 24/7 HS Hoops on Twitter, these schools have shown interest in Amzil: Pittsburgh; South Carolina; Utah State; Southern Methodist; DePaul; San Francisco; Memphis; and New Mexico.

The opportunity to play in a bigger conference on a bigger stage was a factor in the decision but not the ultimate factor.

“Obviously, I want to play at the high level,” Amzil said. “The level matters, but coming out of high school, I had a bigger conferences and bigger schools (recruiting him), and I came to Dayton and the A-10. It’s just a matter of the fit and if they can help me reach my goals.”

Amzil said the Dayton coaches were sad to see him leave and wanted him to stay but wished him luck.

“I love the people,” Amzil said. “I love the coaches. I love my teammates — everything. It was just a basketball decision. Sometimes I’ve got to make hard decisions. It was a hard decision definitely. I love it here. I love everybody here.”

Amzil’s announcement came 11 days after Dayton’s loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the Atlantic 10 Conference championship game. He started all three games in the A-10 tournament and scored 17 points in his final game as a Flyer. Dayton missed its last 15 shots of the season. Amzil had three of those shots, all 3-point attempts in the final 90 seconds. Dayton finished 22-12 in a season that was marked by injuries from the beginning to the end.

“It was hard seeing my guys going down with the injuries one by one,” Amzil said, “and then getting back and going down with injuries again. It’s a hard thing. And then seeing some of the losses that could have been prevented when everybody was healthy. But that’s just the nature of the game. It was definitely hard losing to VCU in the championship game. We knew what was at stake with a March Madness bid. Everybody on this team wanted to go to March Madness and win games there. But I have a lot of good memories with teammates and coaches here.”

Amzil signed with Dayton in November 2020, joined the team that December and scored 22 points in his debut on Dec. 30, 2020, in a 67-65 loss to La Salle at UD Arena.

Amzil averaged 9.9 points and 5.6 rebounds in 19 games as a freshman. He shot 38.2% (26 of 68) from 3-point range.

In his sophomore season, Amzil saw his averages drop to 5.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. His 3-pointer percentage fell to 29.5% (28 of 95). He still earned a permanent spot in the memories of the Flyer Faithful by making a last-second shot to beat No. 4 Kansas in the semifinals of the ESPN Events Invitational.

Amzil improved his numbers in the 2022-23 season as his 3-point percentage climbed to 36.6% (45 of 123).

“I feel like I improved every year I was here,” Amzil said. “The coaches did a good job with that.”

Amzil debated entering the pro ranks this season but said, “I feel like college basketball has something to give me still, so that’s the reason I stayed, and I think also the education would be a good thing.”

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