Fran Fraschilla watched the Dayton Flyers practice Monday at the Cronin Center.
The former head coach at Manhattan, St. John’s and New Mexico and longtime ESPN analyst is in Dayton for The Basketball Tournament. He watched the former Flyers, the Red Scare, play last week at UD Arena, and had a special reason for wanting to see the current Flyers in action. He labels himself an “international hoops junkie” on his Twitter profile.
Dayton has five international players — the most in school history for the second straight year — among its 12 scholarship athletes. One of those, Mike Sharavjamts, team’s lone freshman, has made history as the first Division I scholarship player from Mongolia.
“My first reaction was, ‘Holy mackerel, this kid is good,’” Fraschilla said. “He has a unique feel for the game. He’s a (6-foot-8) play-making wing. People in Dayton have to understand they love basketball in Mongolia. Mike’s part of a growing basketball culture in a unique part of the world, and it’s so cool because he’s kind of got one foot in American culture, and he’s also been a national hero in his country.”
Sharavjamts committed to Dayton in December and arrived on campus in mid-June. He’s the 95th-ranked recruit in the class of 2022, according to ESPN. He’s the son of one of Mongolia’s most famous athletes, Sharavjamts Tserenjankhar, a 7-foot center who played for the Harlem Globetrottters 20 years ago and was known as the Mongolian Shark.
“I’ve met his dad,” Fraschilla said. “It’s a wonderful story. He’s going to be a terrific addition in time because he really has an understanding of the game that makes other guys want to play with him. Given how young this Dayton team is and the talent they have, you couldn’t ask for a better situation for both him and for his teammates.”
Fraschilla was named the head coach of USA Basketball’s 2022 FIBA 3x3 Men’s World Tour team in May. He said 3-on-3 basketball is big in Mongolia, which has the No. 2 ranked team in the world in the most recent federation rankings, with the United States right behind at No. 3.
A United States team from Washington, D.C., beat a team from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital in a FIBA 3-on-3 tournament in Prague, Czech Republic, on Saturday.
“It was a big win for us,” Fraschilla said. “I follow Mongolia basketball now because of Michael, because of 3 on 3.”
Sharavajamts has dual citizenship because he was born in Phoenix while his dad played for the Globetrotters. That means he can participate in name, image and likeness opportunities as he did Saturday at an autograph signing at The Basketball Tournament.
The Flyers have four players born in other countries who have limited NIL rights when they are in the United States because they are here on student visas: Mustapha Amzil (Finland); Toumani Camara (Belgium); Kobe Elvis (Canada); and Richard Amaefule (England).
Earlier in coach Anthony Grant’s tenure, the program had players from Greece (Kostas Antetokounmpo), the Czech Republic (Matej Svoboda), Canada (Jordy Tshimanga) and Mali (Moulaye Sissoko).
No one has come farther from home to play for Dayton than Sharavjamts.
“Mike will be a hero on campus,” Fraschilla said. “His ability to adapt to UD and the student body, it’ll be great for everybody. It’ll be an education for the students who go to UD. It’ll be an education for him.”