The men’s basketball coaches offices at the Cronin Center are full again. Dayton Flyers head coach Anthony Grant and his new assistant coaches — Anthony Solomon, Darren Hertz, Ricardo Greer and James Kane — were all on campus Tuesday, planning their next recruiting trips while figuring out where to live in Dayton.
A couple of players, freshmen Trey Landers and Kostas Antetokounmpo, stopped by the offices early Tuesday afternoon. They seemed comfortable with the new staff. At a quick glance, one would have thought they had been together for years, not six days.
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Grant announced his staff April 19. Even before they all met together in Dayton for the first time, the coaches were on the road last weekend for a three-day evaluation period at NCAA certified events. Grant attended one in Fort Worth, Texas. Another evaluation period begins Friday.
“We’ve got a great coaching team,” Grant said. “A lot of guys complement me and complement each other. They bring in diverse skill sets in terms of on-the-floor coaching, player development and recruiting. They bring a lot of different things to the table. For me, one of the most important things was their abilities to build relationships. These guys are all great with that. They have a service heart, in terms of wanting to help people and be a part of things bigger than themselves.”
It has been a busy month for Grant, who was hired March 30. His office, where Archie Miller worked until March 25, is a blank slate. Two blown-up photos of Jordan Sibert are on one wall. That’s about it. There have been more pressing matters than interior decorating — finding a point guard, for example.
With the graduation of senior Scoochie Smith and the decisions by sophomore John Crosby to transfer and recruit McKinley Wright to reopen his recruitment, Dayton doesn’t have a point guard on the roster or one committed to join the program. Grant said finding a point guard is a priority. Finding the right one, a player who fits in with the current roster, is even more important.
“We’re going to do our best to address that, but this is not a one-shot deal,” Grant said. “We want to develop a program that’s sustainable. Whatever we can do to strengthen our program for this upcoming year, we’re certainly going to do that, but not at the expense of jeopardizing the long-term future of the program in terms of what we’re trying to build.”
Dayton recruited Ohio Bobcats grad transfer Jaaron Simmons, according to reports, but the point guard from Alter committed to Michigan on Monday night. Dayton has also expressed interest in point guard Aaron Thompson, a 2017 recruit who was released from his letter of intent from Pittsburgh.
Wright State transfer and Thurgood Marshall grad Mark Alstork told the Dayton Daily News he visited UD on Monday. Alstork, a 6-foot-5 guard, averaged 19 points per game last season for the Raiders.
Grant has plenty of recruiting experience, having spent all but the last two years of his career in the college game. When he got the Dayton job, he said he dove right into developing a recruiting strategy.
“You have to be patient, and you also have to be decisive because it is late in the game,” Grant said. “A lot of guys were off the board by the time I got the job. These transitions are difficult to navigate. We’re still pursuing some of the guys that were signed and committed to the previous staff. There’s a lot of things you’ve got to try to manage and get your arms around.”
ARCHDEACON: Grant unfazed by roster in flux
Grant continues to learn about his current players. He won’t see one on the court for a number of weeks.
Sophomore forward Sam Miller shared a photo of an X-ray of his broken ankle, with a pin inserted, on Instagram on Tuesday. He suffered the injury on April 1, the day Grant was introduced as the new head coach in a press conference at UD Arena.
The player most fans are excited to see is Antetokounmpo, a 6-10 forward who sat out last season as a NCAA partial qualifier. The exploits of his brother Giannis with the Milwaukee Bucks have raised the anticipation. Kostas looks like his brother on the court, his teammates have said, but it would be unfair to compare the two.
“I think he’s got great potential,” Grant said. “He hasn’t played the college game yet, so you want to be cautious. He’s not his brother. I don’t think anybody expects him to be his brother. He’s got talent. I think he understands he’s got to put the work in to be what he’s capable of being.”
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