Former Flyers now teammates in NBA G League

Jordan Sibert and Ibi Watson both played two seasons at Dayton

Growing up in Ohio and being a basketball junkie, Ibi Watson knew about Jordan Sibert long before he joined the Dayton Flyers in 2018. Sibert learned about Watson when Watson transferred to Dayton and marveled at the success of a player following a similar path in basketball.

Watson played two seasons at Michigan and two seasons at Dayton. Sibert played two seasons at Ohio State and two seasons at Dayton.

Both are 6-foot-4 guards from Ohio who started for some of the greatest Dayton teams in recent years, and now both are teammates with the College Park (Ga.) Skyhawks in the NBA G League. They also crossed paths last summer when Sibert played for the Dayton alumni team, the Red Scare in The Basketball Tournament, and Watson joined the team for a practice at UD.

“It’s always good just to have somebody who who understands the style of play you come from and can relate,” said Sibert, who ranks 46th in Dayton history with 1,030 points. “Even though you know he was with coach (Anthony) Grant, the philosophy was still kind of similar; team-first basketball. We kind of share a couple of our Dayton stories and just talk about old times.”

Sibert, a 2015 Dayton graduate, has played four seasons in the G League. Watson, a 2021 UD graduate, is a G League rookie who has benefited from having a familiar face on the roster.

“It has been super helpful,” said Watson, who ranks 91st in Dayton history with 689 points. “The little tips that he gives me and also just watching the way he carries himself as a pro and the way he handles all types of situation. It’s been great having a guy like him to look up to.”

Sibert has averaged 9.0 points in six games this season, while playing 20.5 minutes per appearance. Watson has appeared in seven games and averaged 8.3 points in 23.5 minutes.

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The Skyhawks, an Atlanta Hawks affiliate, are 5-5. Their roster includes two other Atlantic 10 conference alums: Langston Galloway (Saint Joseph’s); and Justin Tillman (Virginia Commonwealth).

Watson signed with the Hawks as an undrafted free agent on the night of the draft. He averaged 4.4 points in 16.6 minutes per game in the NBA Summer League. Early in the G League season, he said there have been ups and downs.

“I’ve learned a lot of small details about what it takes to be a pro and how to handle adversity, how to handle success, stuff like that,” Watson said. “It’s been a great first year so far.”

What’s life like in the G League? Both former Flyers called it a grind.

“It’s about making sure you’re always ready no matter what,” Watson said. “There are ups and downs throughout the season for everybody. The G League is a place where you get a chance to showcase what you can do, which is great, but you’ve also just got to make sure that you keep your head straight and focus on the details and focus on being the best version of yourself every day.

“You work on your professionalism and being a pro,” Sibert said. “It’s all about mindset. This league definitely allows you to adapt and get ready for the professional lifestyle because even if you’re in the NBA or overseas, there will be ups and downs. There’ll be a lot of turnover, different transitions. You’ve got to handle the adversity this league brings, and if you can overcome it, then good for you.”

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Sibert made it to the NBA with the Hawks in 2019 and appeared in one game, scoring three points. Getting back to the league remains his goal.

“That’s the ultimate goal,” Sibert said. “It’s opportunity. It’s timing. It’s God’s blessing. It takes a lot to get there. I’m willing to just work and try to be prepared for my opportunity whatever it comes.”

Like former teammates Jalen Crutcher, who’s a G League rookie averaging 15.3 points in nine games with the Greensboro Swarm, and Jordy Tshimanga, a rookie averaging 9.3 points in nine games with the Iowa Wolves, Watson has NBA dreams.

“That’s the motivation, Watson said. “I’d love to test test myself at the highest level. I’m just kind of taking it day by day right now, trying to get better every single day.”

Watson and Sibert played against Crutcher on Jan . 14 in Greensboro, N.C. The Skyhawks won 124-111. Crutcher had 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 31 minutes. Watson had eight points on 4-of-7 shooting in 23 minutes. Sibert scored five points on 2-of-7 shooting in 17 minutes.

“It was great,” said Watson, who was Crutcher’s teammate the last two seasons at Dayton. “Before before the game started, we talked for like 5-10 minutes, and then we checked in close to the same time so we were just talking and joking right away. He got in and he hit a 3 on me, and then I came down and hit up a pull-up on him. It was a funny moment. But it was definitely great being on the court again with him.”

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