All those rumors about Dayton Flyers forward DaRon Holmes II entering the transfer portal this spring while exploring his NBA Draft options weren’t far off.
“We were seriously considering putting his name in the portal,” DaRon’s dad, DaRon Holmes Sr., said Wednesday, “but, at the time, we just elected to minimize the distractions and not deal with everything that comes with a player like DaRon putting his name into the portal. We just didn’t want the distraction. Some people questioned our decision to do that. In the end, it was about minimizing distraction and keeping the focus on working toward the draft.
“The reason I bring up the portal was because NIL-wise, as hard as the Dayton 6th is working to grow that aspect of recruiting and retention, the money that’s been thrown around will remain a challenge. I already know some of the things that were thrown at DaRon — some of things that were thrown at us — just to consider. That being said, we’ve never been all about letting the money drive our decision. The money didn’t drive us to the portal, and the money didn’t necessarily drive us back to Dayton. It was just, ‘Where do we feel he had the best opportunity to develop the skill sets that the NBA teams gave us feedback on, that they said they wanted to see?’”
Holmes, a 6-foot-10 forward from Goodyear, Ariz., withdrew his name from consideration for the NBA Draft on Wednesday evening about three hours before the deadline for underclassmen to do so while maintaining their college eligibility. He will return to Dayton for his junior year.
Coach Anthony Grant, who will talk about Holmes’ decision on Thursday afternoon in his first basketball-related interview since the season ended in March, and his staff now have two scholarships to work with if they want to add to the 2023-24 roster.
Holmes worked out for six or seven NBA teams over the last month, most recently with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, his dad said, though a final workout scheduled Wednesday with the Sacramento Kings didn’t happen when Holmes’ flight was cancelled. He would have worked out with the Utah Jazz on Thursday if he had stayed in the draft. More workouts would have followed if he had not decided to return to college.
Holmes will now take a short break before returning to the UD campus.
“We will probably take a few days and keep him home before we send him back out,” Holmes Sr. said. “I think he deserves a few days here just to kind of recoup. He’s been going so hard, working out three times a day. He’s lost a little weight, so we’re going to fatten him up.”
Most NBA Draft experts predicted Holmes would go in the second round. That’s what he heard throughout the process as well, his dad said.
“We were getting mostly second-round grades, and DaRon thought he could do better,” Holmes Sr. said. “A lot of teams really liked him, but at this point, this far ahead of the draft, he just didn’t get enough first-round buzz to really move him to say, ‘Let’s stay in the draft.’ Just talking about the plan for next year with the coaching staff, he felt he could accomplish some of the things the feedback said he needed to demonstrate. That’s what it came down to. It was what was the best place for the type of development and atmosphere DaRon wanted? Did he want to go ahead and take a contract and go through the G League process? Or did he feel let’s give it one more try at Dayton and have the results prove positive for him?”
By returning to Dayton, Holmes will get the chance to add to his legacy as one of the program’s all-time greats. Through two seasons, Holmes ranks 42nd in school history with 1,073 points. If he matches his points total of last year (624), he will become the 11th player in school history to score 1,700 points.
Holmes has 147 blocks. The school record, set by Chris Wright in four seasons, is 162.
“In today’s environment, you have to pick out the best situation for you to obtain your goals,” Holmes Sr. said. “I think DaRon is definitely comfortable in the Dayton environment. The Dayton campus and the city have embraced him and treated him well. In some respects, that does make it part of the best environment for him. The fan base has been supportive. He feels at home there. That does factor into it being the best place for him to continue his development.”
Holmes had to process information quickly throughout May as he debated his future. The deadline to enter the transfer portal was May 11. If he had entered the portal after that date, he likely would have had to sit out a season before playing elsewhere. Even the May 31 deadline to make a decision about the draft came fast.
Holmes Sr. heard from a NBA general manager, who said he really loved his son and hoped he had stayed in the draft, soon after his son announced his decision to withdraw from the draft. Half the teams Holmes worked out for told him they liked him but wanted to see more of what he could do in college. Not every team liked Holmes’ game, his dad said.
In the end, Holmes and his family decided they didn’t have enough certainty ahead of the deadline. He wasn’t the only college star to pull out of the draft Wednesday. Purdue’s Zach Edey, the national player of the year in 2023 and another projected second-round pick, announced he will return for his senior season.
Holmes made the All-Atlantic 10 Conference first team as a sophomore while increasing his scoring average from 12.8 to 18.4 points per game. He and George Washington’s James Bishop are the only members of the first team returning to their teams for the 2023-24 season.
For Holmes Sr., next season is not about putting up big numbers or racking up awards for Holmes.
“It’s not really about the stats or the accolades,” he said. “It’s about how he obtains those, right? Selfishly and personally, I’m not concerned if he averages 18 and eight again this year. If he averages 15 and eight, and he’s doing things that demonstrate that he’s ready next year for the NBA under the umbrella that the team is successful as well, that’s when we’ll feel like we accomplished what we need to this year.”