Dayton junior Devin Oliver, one of the more active Flyer tweeters, posted this on Twitter on Wednesday night: “My grandparents on my dad’s side will see me play tomorrow for the first time EVER. Truly blessed.”
John and Lily Oliver traveled from Chicago to Charleston to see their grandson, a 6-7 starting forward from Kalamazoo, Mich., play this week, and it meant the world to him.
“They’re kind of an old-school type couple,” Oliver said. “They don’t really leave the house much. In all my years of basketball, they never got to see me play at all. It’s not because they don’t want to. It’s just the way they are. My grandfather doesn’t like to leave the house a lot. My parents (Kelvin and Amy Oliver) finally convinced him to come to a game. It was real special.”
Oliver didn’t play as well as he hoped in Thursday’s 67-57 loss to Colorado, shooting 1-of-8 from the field with 2 points and 12 rebounds. He talked to his grandparents after the game.
“They said, ‘Don’t worry about it. We don’t care that much about basketball. There are more important things, whatever that may be,’ ” Oliver said. “That kind of helped me (Friday). I thought, ‘Don’t worry about everything. Just play hard.’ ”
With his grandparents watching again Friday, Oliver responded with one of his best games as a Flyer in an 87-71 victory over Boston College. He shot 7-of-11 from the field and had 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
“I started off just trying to be strong on the glass and to capitalize on my offensive chances when they were there,” Oliver said. “It may sound cliche, but my teammates were the reason with the plays they made, the opportunities they provided, the back screens, whatever.”
The Flyers (2-1) return to action at 2 p.m. today against Auburn (2-1) in the fifth-place game of the Charleston Classic at TD Arena. They have confidence after Friday’s impressive victory. Freshman Dyshawn Pierre scored 23 on 8-of-8 shooting, taking the place in the starting lineup of another freshman, Jalen Robinson, who had a big game, too, with 15 points and 6 rebounds.
Dayton has a good balance of youth and experience, and Oliver said the freshmen’s contributions are welcome. Of course, even if Pierre and Robinson end up being two of the team’s best players, they still have to do the things all freshmen have to do.
“We make them carry bags at away games,” Oliver said. “They’ve got to pay their dues. When it comes to basketball, whoever’s getting the job done, whoever’s been a team player, we’re all in it for each other.”
Signings: Dayton announced the signing of three high school players to national letters of intent Saturday: 6-2 guard Kyle Davis of Chicago Morgan Park; 6-5 wing Kendall Pollard of Chicago Simeon Career Academy; and 6-2 guard Dayshon Smith of Putnam Science Academy (Conn.).
Davis, who committed in August, is rated the 105th-best prospect in the nation by Rivals.com. He averaged 25 points and 7 assists last season for Hyde Park Academy.
Pollard, rated the 35th-best small forward in the country by ESPN.com, averaged 9 points and 6.3 rebounds last season for the Illinois Class 4A state champions.
Smith, a New York City native rated the 121st prospect by Rivals, averaged 17.2 points and 6.1 assists last season.
It’s the first time Dayton has had two top-150 recruits in the same class.
“They are a great fit for us, and we are a great fit for them,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “They really embody what we are striving for in our program. They will mix in nicely with our returning players, especially those we brought in last year.”