Josh Cunningham could be all-league performer for Dayton Flyers

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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A 26-part series previewing season starts Monday.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Bradley transfer is a captain before playing a game for UD

Editor’s note: The Dayton Flyers start the season Nov. 11. In the 26 days leading to the opener, the Dayton Daily News will explore different aspects of the program in the A-Z Guide to Dayton Basketball. This is the 10th installment. J: Josh Cunningham.

The Dayton Flyers named their captains for the 2016-17 season earlier this month, and there was a surprise name in the group. Redshirt sophomore Josh Cunningham is the rare player who earned votes from his teammates for captain even though he has yet to play in game for the Flyers.

Even coach Archie Miller was surprised the players voted for the 6-foot-7 forward Cunningham, who sat out last season after transferring from Bradley, along with senior guards Scoochie Smith and Kyle Davis.

“There’s guys that talk. There’s guys that are quiet,” Miller said. “There’s guys that do the right things, but ultimately respect from the team and the locker room comes from your production, and Josh didn’t have a whole lot of production a year ago just because he was coming off surgeries, but it shows to me the type of kid, the type of teammate, the respect level he got in a very quick way when he was cleared to go this summer. He went to Spain and did a nice job. Genuinely, Josh is a terrific kid to be around, and he goes out of his way to be a great teammate. I think it was an overwhelming vote, and I was happy for him.”

Cunningham had 12 points and 8 rebounds in the Red and Blue Game on Saturday at UD Arena. That was the first chance for UD fans to see him in action. He didn't play in the scrimmage a year ago because he was recovering from two surgeries.

Cunningham, who went to the same high school in Chicago as Davis, Morgan Park, averaged 7.9 points and 7.5 rebounds in his freshman season at Bradley. After announcing on June 11, 2015, he would transfer to Dayton, Cunningham had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee in July 2015 and then surgery to repair a torn labrum in shoulder in October 2015. He wasn't cleared to practiced until the end of last season.

In August, before the team’s two-game trip to Spain, Cunningham said he was 100 percent and credited trainer Mike Mulcahey for helping him regain his health. Cunningham had a standout performance in Spain with two double-doubles.

Cunningham will likely step right into a starting role Nov. 11 when UD opens the season against Austin Peay.

“He has a chance to be what I would call an impact league guy, a chance to be an all-conference type performer one day,” Miller said. “He’s got to get better. He’s got to learn our system. He’s got to continue to evolve as a player, but he’s in that mold of the forwards we’ve had, whether it’s a (Dyshawn) Pierre or a (Kendall) Pollard or a (Devin) Oliver. Except Josh is probably the most rugged of any of the guys we’ve had. He’s a tremendous rebounder. I would be very disappointed if he’s not up at the top of the line in our league in terms of rebounds per game. That’s going to be a huge thing for us. I think Josh is going to have a big impact.”

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