UD’s Holmes follows in footsteps of Toppin as NBA prospect

Dayton associate head coach Greer looks back fondly on the three years he spent coaching the All-American forward

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Ricardo Greer remembers well the first time he talked to DaRon Holmes II.

Greer, the associate head coach on Anthony Grant’s staff, heard from another coach Holmes would be interested in Dayton. Greer had his doubts about a top-50 recruit giving UD a serious look but gave Holmes a call.

The first impression Greer had was that the youthful voice of Holmes did not match the photos Greer had seen of the up-and-coming basketball star.

“Hey, coach, I’m so thankful you called me,” Holmes told Greer. “I’m so grateful.”

The excitement of Holmes burst through the phone. Dayton offered him a scholarship in June 2020. He committed to Dayton that October without having visited the University of Dayton campus. Restrictions during the pandemic prevented that.

Holmes arrived at UD on May 29, 2021, played three seasons for Dayton and now awaits the start of his professional basketball career. He’ll be in the green room with other potential first-round picks during the NBA Draft on Wednesday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Grant will be in the room with Holmes, his parents and two younger brothers and his agent Aaron Reilly, while Greer will be in the arena with other members of the staff and some of Holmes’ former UD teammates.

“In the seven years we’ve been here, he’s been one of the most unbelievable kids off the court,” Greer said. “On the court, that speaks for itself, but off the court, his mannerisms, the way that he treats people, the way that he talks, I’ve always told his parents they did an amazing job raising that young man. He’s just a phenomenal young kid.”

Holmes, a 6-foot-9, 236-pound forward from Goodyear, Ariz., called Greer last week when he received an invitation from the NBA to attend the draft. Greer was with Grant at the time.

“We were so excited for him,” Greer said. “At the end of the day, he’s put in a lot of work. Now he’s going to be able to enjoy that. Hopefully, he gets his name called really soon in the NBA Draft.”

That will be a full-circle moment for the coaches because Holmes made his decision to become a Flyer less than two months before Obi Toppin, the previous big Dayton star, began his NBA career. Holmes followed in Toppin’s footsteps by becoming an All-American and leading Dayton to national attention and team success. Now he’s poised to become Dayton’s first first-round pick since Toppin.

Greer remembers Holmes telling the Dayton coaches Toppin was his favorite player. The coaches promised to help him match Toppin’s success. Now they can say, “There you go,” Greer said. “It’s amazing.”

Holmes will be the 40th Dayton player drafted since 1952. This will be the first time since 1957 and 1958 when Jim Palmer and Bucky Bockhorn were picked in back-to-back drafts that Dayton has had players drafted in consecutive years. Toumani Camara was a second-round pick last year.

If Holmes is selected in the first round, he will join Toppin, the No. 8 pick in 2020, Jim Paxson, the No. 12 pick in 1979, and John Horan, the No. 8 pick in 1955, on the list of Flyers drafted in the first round.

The draft starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The Atlanta Hawks have the No. 1 pick. The Boston Celtics have the 30th and final pick of the first round.

This year, unlike previous years, the second round will take place a day later than the first round. Draft experts don’t think Holmes will have to wait until Thursday. He’s expected to go somewhere in the bottom third of the first round.

Sam Vecenie, of The Athletic, ranked Holmes the 24th-best prospect in the draft. He expects Holmes to carve out “a long-time NBA role on good teams” and compared him to Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jaylin Williams.

“Holmes has several of the skills teams love to see in a modern big,” Vecenie wrote in his NBA Draft guide. “Many are looking for bigs who can dribble, pass and shoot to help space the court and make decisions for their guards and perimeter stars, and Holmes can certainly do all those things. However, at his size, he faces questions about whether he can adequately perform the “big” parts of being an NBA big man. Can he rebound consistently and end possessions? What is his exact defensive role? He might not be for everyone, but if he finds the right spot, he could have every chance to be an awesome NBA big.”

Holmes had one more season of college eligibility but announced in May he would keep his name in the NBA Draft. Grant was first asked about Holmes’ future after the last game of the season in March: a second-round loss to Arizona in the NCAA tournament. He said then he would support whatever decision Holmes made.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

In early June, Grant said he thinks Holmes is ready for the next level.

“He’s put himself in a really good situation,” Grant said, “just in terms of the opportunity to achieve that dream of playing in the NBA. Obviously, my wish for him is that he can put himself in a position where he’s a first-round pick, just understanding the business of basketball and what that would mean for him and the opportunities that he would get. But I think he’s had the right mindset all the way through in terms of the development, the growth, the maturity, both physically and mentally. At this point, as a 21-year-old, he’s in a great position to continue that growth. The mistake a lot of guys make is thinking that at 18, 19, 20, they’re the best versions of themselves, and they’re a long way away from that. I think he understands, ‘OK, this was a process and this is the next step in the process for me.’



Wednesday: First Round, 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN, ESPN+

Thursday: Second Round, 4 p.m., ESPN, ESPN+


Dayton Daily News beat writer David Jablonski is in New York City to cover Dayton’s DaRon Holmes II and the NBA Draft. Get live updates, photos, video and more from Dave at www.daytondailynews.com


Check out our special coverage of Dayton’s DaRon Holmes II and the first round of the NBA Draft in Thursday’s ePaper edition of the Dayton Daily News.

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