The Basketball Tournament and Red Scare will return to UD Arena this summer

Dayton alumni team announces first three roster additions

There was no guarantee the Dayton Flyers alumni team, the Red Scare, would “run it back” — as they say — in The Basketball Tournament in 2023 after a run to the semifinals last season.

“Our core is getting better and better opportunities overseas, so it’s kind of hard to keep coming back, honestly,” Red Scare coach Joey Gruden said Monday. “It’s tough to get them to agree every year.”

The promise of playing games at UD Arena continues to be a strong lure for the Red Scare, however. The team will play in the TBT, a $1 million winner-takes-all tournament featuring teams of former college stars and many current pros from overseas, again this summer and made their first roster announcement Tuesday. Former Flyers Darrell Davis, Ryan Mikesell and Josh Cunningham will return to the team after playing together last season.

More roster news will be announced in the weeks ahead. Gruden, who will once again coach the team with fellow former Dayton walk-on and teammate Jeremiah Bonsu, expects there to be more former Flyers on the team than ever and at least one new former Flyer who has not played for the Red Scare.

The TBT announced Tuesday it will hold an eight-team regional at UD Arena from July 25-30. The Red Scare could play as many as three games on its old home court.

“They had a great time last year,” Gruden said. “Being at home really sealed the deal for us. It’s awesome playing there and being together for the summer. We’re super excited now, and everyone’s fully bought in. We’re ready to go.”

The TBT has not revealed the site of the final three rounds. UD Arena hosted the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game in 2021 when Boeheim’s Army, a Syracuse team, won the championship. Last summer, it hosted seven regional games, plus the final three rounds of the tournament.

“We are excited to bring TBT back to UD Arena again this summer,” said TBT founder and CEO Jon Mugar in a press release. “The university and its staff have always been first class hosts. There was so much excitement around last year’s regional and Dayton fans showed up in force, resulting in two of our top 10 all-time attendances.”

“We’re very happy that we were able to work it out to bring a TBT regional back to the Arena this summer,” UD Arena Executive Director Scott DeBolt said in a press release. “It’s great that we can provide an opportunity for our Flyer basketball alumni to come back and play for the Red Scare, and for the Flyer Faithful to come out and cheer them on.”

This will be the fifth TBT appearance for the Red Scare.

• The Red Scare made its TBT debut in 2019, playing in the Columbus Regional at Capital University. It lost in the third round to the Ohio State alumni team and eventual champion, Carmen’s Crew.

• In 2020, the Red Scare reached the semifinals in a pandemic-reduced field at Nationwide Arena.

• In 2021, the Red Scare needed to win three games at Ohio State’s Covelli Center to advance to the quarterfinals at UD Arena, but it lost to Category 5, a team of University of Miami alums, in the second round.

• The Red Scare played five games in seven days last summer at UD Arena. It won four games before losing 74-69 to Blue Collar U, a team of Buffalo Bulls alumni. Blue Collar U then beat Americana for Austism 87-69 in the championship game.

One year before winning the championship, Blue Collar U lost in the semifinals. The Red Scare hopes to follow a similar path.

“Realistically, we were five points away,” Gruden said. “We lost by five, and they won the championship by 18. We knew that was the championship game. We were right there. I don’t know if we got tired or what happened. It was a lot of games. I’m working on our depth a little more this year.”

Scoochie Smith, in his first TBT appearance, led the Red Scare in scoring (14.6) and assists (4.8) last year.

Davis, a 6-foot-5 guard, is the only player who has been on the Red Scare roster every season since 2019. He ranked second in scoring (13.2) last season. He’s the Red Scare’s all-time leading scorer with 177 career points (13.6 per game) in 13 games over four tournaments. In his UD career, he scored 1,008 points from 2014-18. He ranks 50th in school history in scoring.

Davis is playing in Sweden this season for Lulea. He averages 9.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

“Darrell has been arguably our best player every year almost,” Gruden said. “He’s not just offense either. He’s so good on defense for us. We’re always like, ‘We’ve got to get Darrell.’ If we can lock him in, we know we’re set for a good wing position every year.”

Mikesell, a 6-7 forward who ranks 71st in school history with 847 points, averaged 7.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in his third TBT appearance. He’s playing in France’s top league this season for Le Portel and averaging 9.1 points and 4.8 rebounds. He caught the eyes of many fans with a fancy move to beat Victor Wembanyama, the presumed No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft, in a game in March.

Cunningham, a 6-8 forward who ranks 55th in school history with 964 points, led the Red Scare with 6.0 rebounds per game last year and averaged 4.4 points. It was his first TBT appearance. He played for Pitesti in Romani this season, averaging 10.7 points and 5.6 rebounds.

“Josh is awesome,” Gruden said. “He’s like the team favorite. He’s such a good dude. Everybody loves having him around. He’s big, can move well, passes. He’s super unselfish. We’ve got all these good guards and then he can come in do all the dirty work and be a great teammate. He’s a perfect fit for us.”

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