Nine days after committing to the Dayton Flyers, the newest men’s basketball recruit introduced himself to fans in a short selfie video on social media Wednesday.
“Hey, Flyers, Richard Amaefule here,” he said. “Can’t wait to meet all of you all and get to work. Let’s do it.”
Amaefule, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward who played his freshman season at East Tennessee State, committed to Dayton on April 12, four days after entering the transfer portal. Dayton announced his signing on April 14.
Amaefule became the second transfer in a five-day stretch to pick the Flyers, following Georgia forward Toumani Camara.
“I just like the coaches,” said Amaefule in an interview with the Dayton Daily News on Wednesday night. “I’ve seen everything coach Grant has done over the years. I just would love to be a part of it.”
Amaefule is from London, England. He will be the 15th foreign-born Flyer. The list started with Makor Shayok, of Sudan, in 1992. Next season Dayton will have four international players on the roster at the same time for the first time: Amaefule; Camara, who’s from Belgium; Mustapha Amzil (Finland); and Moulaye Sissoko (Mali).
Soccer and tennis were Amaefuel’s first sports. His Premier League team is Chelsea. He started playing basketball when he was 8 because he was tall. By the time he was a teenager, he was representing his country at the 2016 U-16 Euro Championship B tournament.
Amaefule’s basketball dreams led him to the United States. As a freshman, he attended Blue Ridge High School in St. George, Va.. He then moved to Dallas, Texas, and attended Bishop Lynch High School, where he had to sit out his sophomore season because of transfer rules. As a junior, he landed at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas.
Amaefule started to draw recruiting attention while playing with the Texas Titans, a Nike EYBL team, and he picked up his first scholarship offer from Texas Christian in April 2018 near the end of his sophomore year. A month later, Louisiana State offered him a scholarship. At that point, he was ranked among the top 150 players in the 2020 recruiting class, according to Rivals.com.
However, an ankle injury that first started bugging Amaefule when he was a freshman in high school got worse, and Amaefule missed half of his junior year and all of his senior year.
“I originally landed on it my freshman year, but I didn’t hurt understand the risk,” he said, “because it didn’t hurt crazy. But it started to build up over time. That’s when we got it looked at and figured out what was wrong.”
Amaefule had torn tendons and a fracture in the ankle. He had surgery in October 2019. Amaefule was recovering from the surgery back home in London when the pandemic started in March 2020. He committed to East Tennessee State in August 2020 and arrived on campus in September.
The late start made it hard for Amaefule to earn playing time. He averaged 1.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game. In 19 appearances, he never played more than 18 minutes.
“After surgery and having the COVID virus hit, I didn’t get much preparation,” Amaefule said. “I came straight from home in London to school. The coaches didn’t trust me because I had been out of the game for so long.”
Asked if he thought the Dayton coaches were betting on his potential, Amaefule said yes.
Amaefule said his strength is his mid-range game, and he’s developing his ability to stretch defense. He said he can create mismatches by working with the ball in the post and driving against bigger defenders.
Amaefule is 100 percent healthy now and doesn’t plan to return to London after classes in Johnson City, Tenn., end. His plan is to come to Dayton and work on his game.
“The sky’s the limit as to what I can do,” he said. “It’s going to be up to me to come in there and work and show what I can do for the program.”