New Dayton recruit making history for his home country

Sharavjamts announced his commitment to Flyers on Tuesday night

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Mongolia is buzzing this week after Enkhiin-Od Michael Sharavjamts, who calls himself “Mongolian Mike” on Instagram, announced his commitment to the Dayton Flyers on Tuesday.

According to multiple reports from Mongolia, Sharavjamts will be the first athlete from the country to earn a Division I scholarship in basketball. The official UD basketball Twitter account shared a photo of UD Arena with a photoshopped image of a Mongolian flag flying in front of UD Arena.

“Good luck to my son,” his dad, Sharavjamts Tserenjankhar, wrote on Facebook. “The choice is wise and may many Mongolian children follow the path that my son set.”

On Twitter, Baika Puntsag, consul at the Consulate General of Mongolia in San Francisco, wrote, “Dear (Dayton men’s basketball), starting today you have added tens of thousands of new fans for your team. Let him shine.”

Sharavjamts, a 6-foot-8 point guard, is following in the footsteps of his father in pursuing his basketball dream in the United States. The 7-foot Tserenjankhar, who has his own memorable nickname, the Mongolian Shark, played for the Harlem Globetrottters 20 years ago. According to a 2001 story by Sports Illustrated, then LSU coach Dale Brown visited Mongolia’s first basketball clinic in the capital, Ulan Bator, and saw Tserenjankhar score 50 points.

“He has such flair,” Brown said. “I thought immediately that he was a Division I player.”

Tserenjankhar was already 27 at that point. Too old to play college basketball, he came to the United States to play for the Globetrotters instead, and he played with the team at UD Arena on Dec. 31, 2001. Now his son will get the chance in college basketball he didn’t get.

Here are seven things to know about Sharavjamts and what his addition means for the Flyers:

1. Roster makeup: Sharavjamts is the first member of the 2022 recruiting class to commit to Dayton. The Flyers would not have a scholarship open if every member of the 2021-22 team returned, though that’s unlikely in the age of the transfer portal.

Dayton has seen nine players enter the transfer portal since the end of the 2017-18 season: John Crosby; Xeyrius Williams; Jordan Pierce; Frankie Policelli; Jordan Davis; Jhery Matos; Rodney Chatman; Dwayne Cohill; and Lukas Frazier.

2. International flavor: The commitment of Sharavjamts continues a trend of foreign-born players picking the Flyers. The current roster has five international players: Mustapha Amzil (Finland); Toumani Camara (Belgium); Kobe Elvis (Canada); Moulaye Sissoko (Mali); and Richard Amaefule (England). That’s the most the program has ever had at one time.

3. Recruiting story: Eastern Washington was the first school to offer Sharavjamts a scholarship in September 2019. He received offers from Rutgers in July and from Providence in October.

Dayton first contacted Sharavjamts in June 2020. He announced Sept. 29 of this year he received a scholarship offer from Dayton. He also visited UD that weekend. UD took photos of him in a Dayton uniform, and he posed with an Atlantic 10 Conference championship trophy and a championship ring. His dad shared a photo on Facebook of himself talking to Dayton head coach Anthony Grant and assistant coach Ricardo Greer on the court inside an empty UD Arena.

Sharavjamts returned to campus Nov. 1 and sat behind the bench with his parents as Dayton played Cedarville in an exhibition game.

4. Local connection: Sharavjamts played his freshman season at Legacy Christian in Xenia. He averaged 10.5 points in 19 games in the 2018-19 season.

5. Moving west: Sharavjamts returned to Dayton a year later to play in the Flyin’ to the Hoop event in Vandalia. He was now playing with Prolific Prep, a team based in Napa, Calif.

“It was a good year last year and learning about American basketball,” he told the Dayton Daily News then. “And this year I know about American basketball, and I’m trying my best.”

6. Summer experience: Sharavjamts returned to Mongolia for the 2020-21 school year but then came back to the United States and played with Midwest Basketball Club all spring and summer. He was coached by Centerville’s Brook Cupps.

Cupps first crossed paths with Sharavjamts during his freshman year in Xenia when he came to Centerville play in open gyms. Cupps said Sharavjamts first ended up in Ohio in 2018 because a family friend from Mongolia had connections to Athletes in Action in Xenia.

“He’s really, really good,” the Centerville coach said. “I love Mike as a kid and as a player. His basketball IQ is off the charts. He understands the game. He anticipates. He sees the floor really well. At 6-8, he can deliver passes in windows that other guys can’t, and that’s by far his best attribute: his playmaking, his ability to get other guys shots and make the game easier for teammates. He rebounds it well. He’s got great length and runs the floor. His perimeter game is improving. I thought he was really good off his pull up and finishing around the basket.”

7. Senior year: After considering playing for Centerville, Sharavjamts chose to play for the International Sports Academy in Willoughby, Ohio, this season. Athletes enrolled at ISA take classes at Andrews Osborne Academy.

Cupps doesn’t see many holes in Sharavjamts’ game. He wondered why he wasn’t getting more scholarship offers. He said Sharavjamts didn’t get much playing time at Prolific Prep because he was stuck behind some big recruits, including Jalen Green, the second overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and then he was off the radar when he went back to the Mongolia for a year.

“When he came back and played AAU with us, no one knew about him,” Cupps said. “I love the fit of Dayton for him. I think he I think he feels comfortable there. That’s always kind of the big thing with Mike, just finding a place where he’s comfortable because he’s kind of been been around to a bunch of different places and he’s a great kid and great teammate and fun to coach.”

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