Holmes II could begin season as rare freshman starter for Dayton

It has been nine years since a true freshman started the season opener for Flyers

DaRon Holmes II didn’t know he was 6-foot-10 when he was measured before the season. He grew an inch over the last year but didn’t realize quite how much.

“That was a little bit surprising,” Holmes said.

Holmes was big when he announced his verbal commitment to Dayton in October 2020. Now he’s the tallest player on the roster, along with fellow 6-10 forward Mustapha Amzil.

The highest-ranked recruit to pick the Dayton Flyers, at least in this century in the era of the recruiting websites, Holmes II will begin his college basketball career at 7 p.m. Tuesday with the eyes of 13,407 fans on him. Dayton announced Thursday it had sold out all 17 home games, including the season opener against Illinois-Chicago.

Although there were some empty seats at the exhibition game Monday against Cedarville University, the announced crowd of 13,233 was plenty big enough to excite the players, especially the freshmen.

“It was honestly amazing,” Holmes said. “My adrenaline was rushing. My heart was beating really fast.”

Holmes scored eight points on 4-of-7 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and tallied three assists, without committing a turnover, in 24 minutes. He also blocked a shot.

Holmes also started the exhibition game. If he starts the season opener, he’ll be the first true freshman to start the first game of the season for Dayton since Jalen Robinson in 2012.

“I’m pretty excited,” Holmes said, “but at the same time, it’s more about having a big impact on the game, whether it’s starting or coming off the bench. Everybody has a role. I think we all just need to live up to it.”

Holmes, who’s from Goodyear, Ariz., said his parents, DaRon and Tomika Holmes, will travel to Dayton to see the opener. His mom will celebrate her birthday Tuesday.

Holmes is one of four true freshmen on the roster. He, Malachi Smith, Lynn Greer III and Kaleb Washington combined for 25 points in the exhibition game. Dayton’s 2021 recruiting class ranked 21st in the nation, according to Rivals.com, and 22nd, according to 247Sports.com.

Holmes ranked 46th in the class, according to Rivals.com. Elijah Weaver, the only fourth-year player among Dayton’s 13 scholarship players, knows what it’s like to have that sort of hype. He ranked 58th in the 2018 class.

“You just kind of hold yourself to a higher standard,” Weaver said, “and you want to do well for yourself, but there’s no real pressure.”

Talking about Holmes, Weaver said, “He’s seriously talented, super talented. The sky’s the limit, and when he figures out how to do the small details like screening and stuff like that, he’ll be even better.”

Weaver hears from the coaches about those details.

“With me personally,” Holmes said, “they want me to just continue to touch up on little things like running the floor hard to create for my teammates and also being able to face up, make the moves out of the post area and just being versatile and being a great defender and being a good teammate as well.”


Illinois-Chicago at Dayton, 7 p.m. Spectrum News 1, ESPN+, 1290, 95.7

About the Author