Holmes savors what might have been his final home game as a Flyer

Dayton star could leave for NBA after his junior season

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

DaRon Holmes II tried to savor the moment as he shot two free throws in the final seconds Friday at UD Arena. He knew it could be his final home game with the Dayton Flyers.

Holmes will explore the NBA Draft process for the second straight year and see what scouts say about his chances. No one will be surprised if he leaves college after his third year at UD, just as Obi Toppin did four years ago. It’s not a decision he has to make now as he adds to his legacy as one of UD’s all-time greats.

Holmes scored 23 points, including those last two free throws, in a 91-86 overtime victory against Virginia Commonwealth in the regular-season finale. He ranks 11th in career scoring at UD with 1,680 points. He has a chance to move into the top 10 and pass John Horan (1,757) if Dayton makes a run in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament next week and the NCAA tournament the week after that.

“It’s hard to imagine,” Holmes said. “There’s been a lot of greats that have come through here. There’s going to be a lot more. I’m just setting the example, setting the tone. Just keep doing big things. That’s my goal.”

The whole Holmes family, including the youngest brother, 2026 recruit Cameron Holmes, who sat behind the UD bench, attended the game. DaRon’s dad, DaRon Holmes Sr., said they were all there because it might be his son’s last home game.

“That’s the reality of it,” he said. “We’re going to go through the process again and get the feedback again and see what it says.”

Injury news: Dayton point guard Javon Bennett missed a second straight game with a left thumb injury. Grant did not have much of an update on his status after the game. “We’ll see what happens as we move forward,” Grant said.

• Dayton freshman Jaiun Simon was not at the game. He had surgery Friday on a lower-body injury, a UD spokesman said. He won’t be with the team in Brooklyn, but the hope is he will be able to travel with the team in the NCAA tournament.

• VCU’s leading scorer, Max Shulga, did play after not playing in VCU’s loss to Duquesne on Tuesday because of back spasms. He had 14 points in 39 minutes. Alphonzo Billups III played four minutes after injuring his ankle against Duquesne.

“(Billups) worked his tail off for the last couple of days just to get back out there,” VCU coach Ryan Odom said. “I’m really proud of him showing that toughness. Max certainly didn’t have to play. It was kind of back and forth. Do we expose him to this in light of what’s coming next week. He was adamant. He was like, ‘I’m playing,’ and he felt good throughout. We were monitoring it, just to see if it tightened up. Obviously, we would have taken him out if it did. So that’s a good sign going forward.”

Looking ahead: No. 3 seed Dayton will play in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The possible opponents will be known when the complete bracket is announced Saturday night.

If Dayton wins Thursday, it will play a semifinal game at 3:30 p.m. on March 16. The A-10 championship game will take place at 1 p.m. on March 17.

VCU needed a victory to earn a top-four seed and a double bye. Instead of starting play in the quarterfinals on Thursday, it will play as the No. 5 seed in the second round at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Pregame scene: The line of UD students stretched from the door where members of the Red Scare student section enter UD Arena around the corner to the West Entrance before the game Friday.

Connor Amick, a student from St. Louis, was the first person in line at 9 a.m.

“I’m just in love (with Dayton basketball),” Amick said. “I bleed red, just like everyone else.”

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