Dwayne Cohill called Anthony Grant at 7 p.m. Sunday night to tell him the news. He was ready to give his verbal commitment the Dayton Flyer s . A day later, on Monday evening, Cohill revealed his decision to the rest of the college basketball world on Twitter.
To say it was a big moment for the senior from Holy Name High School in Parma Heights, Ohio, and the first-year UD head coach would be an understatement.
Cohill, a 6-foot-2 guard, traveled a long road to reach his college decision. He received his first recruiting letter in eighth grade — ironically, he thinks it was from Dayton — and had scholarship offers from the likes of Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, etc.
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Grant worked five months on the recruiting trail to convince Cohill to attend Dayton, talking to him for the first time on April 13, two weeks after he left the Oklahoma City Thunder to coach his alma mater.
Cohill and Grant will see each other a lot more, starting next year, because of the phone call Cohill placed one day after returning home from his official visit to UD.
“He was in Starbucks when I told him I was going to commit,” Cohill said. “He was just getting his coffee. He said his hands started shaking. He was just so happy. I told him he’s got to be careful so he wouldn’t spill his coffee.”
Grant can’t comment on Cohill’s commitment until he signs in November. It’s not hard to imagine his excitement, however. Dayton beat Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt and many others to land Cohill. He’s Grant’s first top-100 recruit and first Ohio recruit.
Cohill ranks 92nd in the class of 2018, according to Rivals.com. He’s No. 96, according to 247Sports.com, and No. 5 in Ohio.
As a junior, Cohill averaged 22.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.5 steals per game. He shot 35 percent from 3-point range. Holy Name finished 23-4 and reached the Division II regional semifinals.
With more than 1,600 career points, Cohill is already the leading scorer in Holy Name boys basketball history. His coach, Kevin Huber, said Cohill has a chance to finish in the top 25-30 in Ohio history.
“He can play point guard and shooting guard,” Huber said. “Because of his versatility and the conversations I had with coach Grant and the conversations coach Grant had with him this weekend, I think he’s going to fit in great with the way Dayton wants to play. He’s great at getting to the basket. He’s an outstanding ball-handler, good passer and good shooter who I think will continue to improve as a shooter. He rebounds well for a guard. He’s a good on-the-ball defender. The think that what made me excited about him choosing Dayton is I think it’s the right fit for him. I think he’s going to have a chance to have an outstanding career there if he continues to work and continues to progress.”
Cohill has been on Dayton’s radar for years. Former Dayton coach Archie Miller recruited him when he was a freshman. After Cohill’s freshman year, he traveled to UD with his high school team for a team camp and saw campus and the arena for the first time.
As Cohill’s high school career progressed and he rose in the recruiting rankings, Dayton backed off in its recruiting of him. The Flyers don’t land many top-100 recruits. Kostas Antetokounmpo was the only one of the Miller era, though other top-100 players, such as Jordan Sibert and Josh Cunningham, came into the program as transfers.
Cohill said Miller told him he was too much of a “big-time player” to come to Dayton.
“He didn’t know if I would actually think about it,” Cohill said. “He didn’t want to waste his time. But I always tell everyone no school is too small or too big. Wherever I feel is perfect for me, that’s where I’m going to end up.”
Dayton had started to recruit him again earlier this year, Cohill said, and then Miller left for Indiana in March. Dayton introduced Grant as coach on April 1. Twelve days later, Cohill met Grant for the first time at an AAU tournament.
Grant and assistant coach Anthony Solomon were the two coaches Cohill talked to the most in recent months, though the entire staff was involved.
“At every game, there was a different coach,” Cohill said. “There were games when there were multiple assistants. Coach Grant made a lot of games. At my tournament in Kentucky, which was the second evaluation period in July, I think he made it to every game. Not often do you see a head coach put in that much time with one kid when he could be scouting 100 other kids.”
Dayton made it clear to Cohill he was their No. 1 priority, even as it offered scholarships to a number of players in the class of 2018 — nine at the last count, not including Cohill.
“A lot of schools preach to you that you’re their top priority, but they don’t 100 percent show it,” Cohill said. “They preached it and backed it up. They didn’t just talk a good game. They showed me I was 100 percent their top priority. That was something that really stood out to me.”
Dayton has one scholarship open in 2018, but it might have two. Suspended forward Sam Miller had his scholarship revoked for the 2017-18 season. If he returns to the university after the first semester, he will have to do so “on his own dime,” Grant said in August . UD has not made any promises to Miller for the following season.
As for Cohill, he was ready to become a Flyer as soon as his visit finished Saturday. This was his first official visit, though he took unofficial visits to eight or 10 schools, Huber said. He had scheduled visits to Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt in the coming weeks.
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Cohill arrived on campus Thursday with his mom, Jo Ann Williams, and had dinner that night at the Brio Tuscan Grille at The Greene with the coaching staff and their wives. On Saturday, Cohill and his mom had lunch in the players lounge at UD Arena.
“It wasn’t just me and the players,” Cohill said. “It was me, all the players, the coaches, their wives and kids, just the entire family. That was something I really wanted to see. Is this a place that’s going to preach a family atmosphere, or are they just going to talk about it? Usually, a lot of schools say they have a family atmosphere, and sometimes they don’t. This was a place where I really saw it in front of my own eyes.”
Cohill’s relationship with the coaches grew during the summer. He communicated with them almost every day. The visit solidified the relationship, he said, and they made him feel at home.
“It was the first time I found someplace I really wanted to call home,” Cohill said. “When I got back home, I thought about it overnight and throughout the day on Sunday and made up my mind that’s where I want to be.”
Huber sensed a burden had been lifted from Cohill’s shoulders as soon as he made the decision.
“One thing I appreciate about Dwayne is he’s pretty savvy when it comes to recruiting,” Huber said. “He wasn’t necessarily going to be blinded by whatever the biggest school was recruiting him. That said, Dayton has been as successful as a lot of the bigger schools that were recruiting him, and it was a combination of the success of the program and the fit and hopefully the chance to earn some minutes early on, all those things really appealed to him. The other thing he shared with me was when he was down there the last couple of days, he really hit it off with the players. He got to spend time with the team. He just really enjoyed coach Grant and his staff. All those things came together in a perfect storm.”