UD Hall of Famer Janky, one of most beloved Flyers, dies at 74

George Janky, one of the best and most beloved players ever to wear a University of Dayton basketball uniform, died late Friday night at Kettering Medical Center. He was 74.

A UD Hall of Fame member, the bulky 6-foot-8 Janky scored 910 points and pulled down 684 rebounds for the Flyers in three varsity seasons from 1967 to 1970.

In one of the grandest recruiting coups of his career, Don Donoher out-maneuvered Kentucky’s  Adolph Rupp – who pulled out all the stops – to land Janky, a top-five recruit in the nation from Chicago’s St. Rita High School.

Janky was a sophomore center on the 1968 Flyers team that won the National Invitational Tournament, beating a big Kansas team, 61-48, at Madison Square Garden. His next two seasons, UD made the NCAA Tournament.

He was the team captain his senior season when the Flyers moved from the Fieldhouse to the brand new UD Arena, which, by the way, he helped build.

The summer before that historic season, he made $6.69 an hour working with Sheet Metal Local No. 224 as they put the roof on the Arena.

Then, in the first game, a 72-70 victory over Bowling Green, Janky scored 26 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. He ended the season as Dayton’s leading scorer and the MVP of the team.

He was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in the sixth round of the 1970 NBA draft and played briefly with the Pittsburgh Condors in the ABA.

He settled in Dayton and is survived by his wife Kim, daughters Katie, Kerry and Madison, and five grandchildren.

He took ill while attending the Flyers opener against Lindenwood at UD Arena last Monday night.

Known as a caring gentle giant, he avoided the personal limelight, but certainly made sure it was shined on others. Over the years, he organized several reunions of former UD players to honor Donoher.

Just 11 days ago he organized and spoke at a celebration of life for Bill Siewe, who played on the 1977 Notre Dame national championship football team and died this past summer.

Three weeks ago he was announced as one of the board members of Dayton 6, the group that includes former UD players Brian Roberts and Keith Waleskowski and plans to help expand NIL deals for current Flyers athletes.

I remember talking to Janky as he sat in the tunnel at UD Arena on the day he was elected into the Hall of Fame 29 years ago

“I made the right decision coming here, though I remember the day I left on the plane from Chicago,” he said. “I felt like a jerk. I sat by the window and there stood my dad and my little sister and my brother.

“My mom had died the year before my senior year in high school. I felt like I might be needed at home. I felt like I was deserting them.”

As he recalled the moment, tears began to roll down his ample cheeks. His dad, Joe, had just died that past summer.

“This is an emotional day,” he finally whispered.  “I wish my dad could have seen this. He was the one back then who told me to go and do what’s best for me.

“As it turned out, Dayton was the best. Mick Donoher made me a better person. He was more than a coach.

“And Dayton was more than just a town where I played basketball.

“It became my home.”

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