Anthony Grant and his Dayton Flyers coaching staff had to act fast this spring to put together a roster for the 2017-18 season.
By the time Grant was hired on March 30 , most 2017 recruits had signed. There was a long list of transfers the coaches could pursue, but they had to decide who to recruit. Not long after taking the reins, Grant was reaching out to the players recruited by former coach Archie Miller. Three of the five recruits — guard Jordan Davis, forward Matej Svoboda and center Jordan Pierce — decided to stick with Dayton.
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In late April, not long after he announced the hiring of four assistants, Grant said it was important to be patient and decisive in recruiting. That approach paid off this month as the Flyers signed two more recruits — point guard Jalen Crutcher , of Ridgeway High School in Memphis, Tenn., and forward Obadiah Toppin, of Ossining, N.Y., and Mount Zion Prep in Baltimore — to complete the roster of 13 scholarship players.
“We’ve got a great group of returners, a great group of people,” Grant said Wednesday, “and obviously with the newcomers coming, I’m excited about that. I got a chance to meet the group Archie and his staff recruited. I haven’t met Matej in person, but I talked to him on the phone. He’s really excited about coming here and getting his career started. Obviously, the two we were able to add, it’s been really good. Credit the staff for being able to get so much done in such a short time with as late as it was.”
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How did the new group of coaches sell the university and the program? Grant played at Dayton, so he knew what to say to recruits. Associate head coach Anthony Solomon coached at Dayton in 2007-08 under Brian Gregory.
Assistant James Kane coached at UD Arena on opposing teams three times and worked with Grant at Virginia Commonwealth and Alabama. Darren Hertz, assistant to the head coach, also knows Grant well from having coached with him at the University of Florida from 1996-2006. The only coach with no prior connections to Dayton or Grant was Ricardo Greer, who got into coaching two years ago at Central Florida after a long playing career in France.
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No matter their backgrounds, the coaches didn’t have to study hard before pitching the school to recruits.
“It’s not very hard to sell the University of Dayton,” Kane said. “It’s not.”
Kane coached the previous six seasons at Murray State, which lost at UD Arena in 2012 and 2013. He knew all about the atmosphere at UD Arena and the rabid fan base. He researched the administration before he stepped foot on campus and admired the job Athletic Director Neil Sullivan has done.
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As for what to tell recruits about Grant, he didn’t have to formulate a plan.
“I know what to say when it comes to him,” Kane said. “Anthony Grant’s one of the easiest sells when it comes to recruits.”
In the recruiting process, the coaches also want to get to know the recruits and the people who are important to the recruits: parents, other family members, high school coaches, etc.
“You always strive to get them to listen to what you have to say,” Solomon said. “The next step is have them visit your campus. We have a beautiful campus, a great basketball venue that is tradition rich in terms of one of the best home-court advantages in the country. The First Four … I’ve spent 28 years in this business … the greatest month we all know is March. To be at Dayton, it keeps the March mentality fresh year round.”