USC transfer Weaver could bring new dynamic to Dayton Flyers

Anthony Grant says UD is waiting to find out from compliance department if Weaver can play

Elijah Weaver used a common emoji — a set of eyeballs glancing to the right — to express his emotion Wednesday after the NCAA granted waivers to all transfers, making them immediately eligible to play in the 2020-21 season.

The eyeballs came with Weaver’s first Instagram post after the decision. Later, he shared a photo of himself in a Dayton Flyers uniform and wrote, “We free. Let’s get active.”

Instead of sitting out the season as a transfer from Southern California, Weaver could play as soon as 2:30 p.m. Saturday when Dayton (3-1) plays host to Mississippi (4-0) at UD Arena. The game will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.

However, Dayton coach Anthony Grant said Thursday he was waiting to hear from the UD compliance department about Weaver’s status, and he hoped to know within 24-48 hours if Weaver was eligible to play. Grant did not want to get into specifics about what he needed to hear.

Some transfers who had previously been denied waivers by the NCAA — such as Nike Sibande, who transferred from Miami University to Pittsburgh — took the court within hours of the ruling Wednesday.

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The NCAA Division I Council approved the blanket waivers.

“The Council continued its trend of voting in favor of maximum flexibility for student-athletes during the pandemic,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania, in a press release. “Allowing transfer student-athletes to compete immediately will provide additional opportunities to student-athletes during this continued difficult time, and perhaps allow games to be played that otherwise might not have been.”

Weaver averaged 5.1 points in 28 games as a freshman at USC and 6.6 points in 30 games last season as a sophomore. He shot 34 percent from 3-point range (48 of 141) over the two seasons. Dayton planned for him to redshirt this season so he wouldn’t be stuck behind Jalen Crutcher, Ibi Watson and Rodney Chatman and then to play the next two seasons. That’s why they didn’t initially apply for a transfer waiver.

However, the NCAA then decided to not count this season against anyone’s eligibility. That’s one reason many transfers were getting cleared to play without sitting. Now the NCAA’s letting everyone play, and in Weaver’s case, he would still have two seasons of eligibility remaining after this season.

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If Weaver does play this season for Dayton, he would bring needed depth for a team that ranks fourth from last in the country in bench minutes. While freshman guard R.J. Blakney has stepped up in the last two games to become the team’s top sixth man, Dayton has felt the loss of junior guard Dwayne Cohill, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in October.

Weaver has the skill and experience to help.

“He’s a good player,” Chatman said. “He’s left-handed. That brings another dynamic to the team. He has good size. I feel like he can play anywhere from the 1 to the 3, so he can bring another dynamic to the team that we haven’t had in a couple years. He’s very excited. We’re happy to have him.”

Grant said it was too early to say what kind of impact Weaver will have on the team if he’s able to play. Weaver has been with the team in practice every day but hasn’t necessarily been working with the starters. He’s helped on the scout team and has focused on learning the system.

“With this rule passing, we’re hoping to get him acclimated and fitting in with different combination of other guys on the floor,” Grant said. “That’s the next task.”

Grant said they talked to Weaver about the possibility of playing 7-10 days ago. That’s when news started leaking that the NCAA was likely going to approve waivers for everyone.

“If this happens, be prepared for it,” Grant told him.

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