Since the season ended March 8, Dayton has seen five players decide to leave the program to transfer to another college or pursue careers in professional basketball and has signed four new recruits. Grant’s second spring with the program has been as busy as his first.
“It has been a busy offseason,” Grant said. “It’s been a whirlwind of a year, to be honest with you. A lot has happened since the last time we got together here, but certainly for myself, my family, our staff, our team, it’s a process that we’re really enjoying. There’s been a lot of transition, a lot of new additions, a lot to talk about.”
Of the 11 players on the 2018-19 roster, all but Josh Cunningham, Ryan Mikesell, Trey Landers and Jordan Davis were recruited by Grant and his assistant coaches. Jalen Crutcher and Obadiah Toppin signed after Grant was hired in March 2017. The five members of the 2018 class — Holy Name High School senior Dwayne Cohill, Monroe College sophomore Jhery Matos, Long Island Lutheran senior Frankie Policelli, Michigan transfer Ibi Watson and Chattanooga transfer Rodney Chatman — also were recruited by Grant and his staff.
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Building a culture with those players is Grant’s goal.
“That’s the most important thing,” Grant said. “I told our guys at the beginning of the season — really when I came in in the summer — that our culture was the most important thing, more important than anything else we did — our strategy. No matter what we did, we had to establish our culture of who we are, who we aspire to be and the way we’re going to go about doing that. At different stages of the year, you figure out who fits that culture and what we’re trying to establish. It’s not good or bad. It’s not always a good fit.
“For us, the process of building our team and building who we are from an identity on both sides of the ball and really on and off the floor, I think you have to try to establish that when you walk in the door. So I’m excited about the guys we have who had the opportunity to experience what we went through last year on the court. We had a couple of guys who were there every day (Mikesell and Toppin, who sat out the season) who got a chance to develop and grow and didn’t get a chance to participate. And the guys coming in understand what we need. We feel they’ll be really great fits for who we are and what we do. We’re excited about Dayton basketball moving forward.”
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Grant also reviewed the four players who have signed since the end of the season in his conversation with Hansgen.
• Matos (6-5 guard): "Jhery had a chance to come during the season to a game and fell in love with the atmosphere, fell in love with our fan base and the opportunity to come here and get a great education and play ball and decided on his visit this is what he wanted to do. He went out and had a great sophomore season. He was a junior-college All-American. His team was about one game away from (playing) for the championship. I think he's a guy that our fans will fall in love with because he plays with such energy and has a variety of different skills he brings to the table. A very unselfish guy. He understands what it takes to win on both sides of the ball, so I'm very excited about adding him."
• Policelli (6-8 forward): "Frankie is a guy who at 6-8 brings a skill set in his ability to stretch the defense in the way he shoots the basketball. A very good passer. A very good feel for the game. Like most young guys, he'll need to physically develop and mature, but his skill set and versatility will allow him to impact our team right away."
• Watson (6-5 guard/forward): "Ibi was familiar with Dayton coming out of high school. He was recruited here and obviously chose to go to Michigan. Once he made the decision to leave Michigan, we tried immediately to establish contact. We were fortunate to be able to get him on campus, and really he was familiar with Dayton. He had to become familiar with myself and our staff and what our plans were and what we're trying to do. Once he saw that, once he got comfortable with that ... he's a great young man first and foremost. He's got a tremendous work ethic in terms of his desire to impact a program, and he's got a great skill set in terms of his ability to shoot the basketball. I think from the time he was in high school to where he is now, he's developed physically. Obviously, playing at Michigan, going through practice every day, the experience he had there for two years, added a level of maturity for him and a hunger really to get out on the court. So I think he's a great addition."
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Chatman (6-1 point guard): "Rodney, for two years at Chattanooga, played about 20 minutes per game as a freshman and 30 minutes per game as a sophomore. You look at his numbers in terms of his scoring, his assist-to-turnover ratio, his ability to rebound and I think on the defensive end, he's a guy that can put some pressure on your opponent and impact the game on that side of the ball as well. I'm really excited to add him. It's a tribute to the university, our administration, everyone, Dr. (Eric) Spina, Neil Sullivan. Everybody did a great job on his visit in making sure to show the commitment we have to our student-athletes both on and off the floor."
Dayton still has two scholarships open for next season, and recruiting for 2018 and future classes continues.
“When when you look at your team, one of the things you try to do is not only add pieces that can help you in the short term,” Grant said, “but also you have to look long term in terms of what you’re trying to do with your classes, what you’re trying to do personnel wise, and I think we’ve got an opportunity here to be somewhat selective.”