No visiting player has thrived at UD Arena in recent seasons more than St. Bonaventure guard Jaylen Adams, the leading returning scorer in the Atlantic 10 entering the 2017-18 season.
Adams tied his season high in 2015-16 with 31 points in a 79-72 victory at Dayton. Last season, he scored 35 points in a 76-72 loss at Dayton. He won’t have to wait long for another chance. Dayton hosts St. Bonaventure on Jan. 3 in its Atlantic 10 home opener.
“I do like playing in that arena,” Adams said Tuesday at A-10 Media Day in Washington, D.C. “I think they probably have the best crowd outside of us at home. I just like playing in front of big crowds.”
Adams averaged 20.6 points per game as a junior. He has scored 1,377 points in three seasons. The Bonnies, who tied with Dayton and Virginia Commonwealth for the regular-season title in 2016, were picked to finish second in the preseason poll. Adams and fellow senior guard Matt Mobley were named to the preseason first team.
“We’re stocked with seniors in our backcourt,” Adams said. “We’re going to play every game like it’s our last. We’ve got tough guys behind us, a bunch of guys who haven’t played a bunch of minutes in the A-10 but they’re good basketball players.”
Dayton is 6-1 against St. Bonaventure in the last three seasons. Asked if he will miss Scoochie Smith and Dayton’s other graduated seniors, Adams said, “We beat them once. They beat me a lot more than I beat them. I’m not going to miss them in terms of playing them, but I definitely am going to miss the competition.”
Ohio connection: When Davidson entered the A-10 in the 2014-15 season, it had five players from Ohio on its roster. Only one player from that group remains: senior forward Peyton Aldridge, of LaBrae High School in Leavittsburg.
“The Davidson tradition in Ohio is pretty darn good,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “Two numbers that hang in the rafters are Ohio guys: Derek Rucker (of Hunting Valley) and then Dick Snyder (of North Canton). You’ve got two great Buckeyes.”
Aldridge ranks among Davidson’s best players. He enters his final season with 1,470 points. He averaged 20.5 points per game last season.
“He’s the quarterback of our team,” McKillop said. “He can play any position. … He’s just the consummate leader in what he does and how he does it. He’s always been so humble. Now there’s a degree of confidence that comes with that humility, and they’ve blended together perfectly.”
McKillop plans to continue to make Ohio recruiting a priority. Not only is former Dayton assistant coach Kevin Kuwik, who has spent most of his career in Ohio, on the staff as the director of basketball operations, but McKillop’s son Matt is an assistant coach who married an Upper Arlington native.
“Matt has his fingerprints all over Ohio,” McKillop said.
Coaching mentor: Two of the new coaches in the A-10, Dayton’s Anthony Grant and Massachusetts’ Matt McCall, worked together under Billy Donovan at the University of Florida and were on the staff that won the 2006 national championship. Grant left after that season to become the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but (Grant) called me and offered me his (director of basketball operations) role,” McCall said. “Five minutes after he offered me that, coach Donovan called me. I thought he was calling me to congratulate me, and he offered me the ops role at Florida. I owe a tremendous amount to (Grant). If you were going to ask me my mentors in the game, obviously coach Donovan is at the top of the list, and Anthony Grant is right there with him.”
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