Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the program’s incoming freshmen will not be eligible to compete this season. 6-foot-8 forward Obadiah Toppin has been ruled by the NCAA to have not met initial eligibility requirements, and he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as a result.
Toppin will be allowed to remain a member of the team and participate in practices, and he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018-19 season. While the NCAA’s decision leaves the Flyers short a front court option in head coach Anthony Grant’s first season at the helm, it did not come as a surprise.
“We knew this was a possible scenario for Obi early on in the recruiting process,” Grant said in the release. “And if it came to pass, we saw this as a chance for him to utilize this year acclimate as a student and enhance his strength and skill as an academic redshirt. This is a great opportunity for Obi to develop as a player and student over the next 12 months, and prepare himself for a very successful college career.”
Toppin, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game at Mt. Zion Academy last season, is one of five freshmen who have joined the program. Matej Svoboda and Jordan Pierce will look to earn minutes alongside returnees Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams, and the same can be said for redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo.
Toppin being declared ineligible is the third hit Dayton has taken to its front court this offseason. Ryan Mikesell, who played in 32 games last season, will redshirt after undergoing two hip surgeries. And Sam Miller, who was also part of the team’s front court rotation last season, was suspended from school for the fall semester after he was arrested during the summer.
Dayton and new head coach Anthony Grant made a solid statement in the Class of 2018 on Monday night as four-star guard Dwayne Cohill pledged to the Flyers on Twitter.
The 6-foot-3 native of Cleveland is the No. 92 overall prospect in the Rivals national 2018 rankings as he gives Grant a top-100 prospect during his first recruiting class.
Cohill is a scoring guard who is capable of playing multiple perimeter spots as he can handle the ball a little bit while also looking for his own offense.
Cohill is Dayton’s first commitment in the Class of 2018 as he represents a major start for their recruiting efforts in the future.
Dayton forward Josh Cunningham has his sights set on being 100 percent healthy for the 2017-18 season after returning from surgery to complete last season.
After tearing a ligament in his ankle finishing a dunk against Alabama last November, Cunningham had surgery and missed a large chunk of the season before returning to play in the Flyers’ final nine games.
In a story from David Jablonski of the Dayton Daily News, Cunningham revealed that he wasn’t fully healthy when he returned late last season, saying that he estimated he was at 70 to 75 percent health, but he doesn’t regret doing so. Cunningham gave Dayton a much-needed body on the interior as they made an NCAA tournament run.
“I just wanted to go back and give it my all for the team,” Cunningham said to reporters. “I’m very happy I came back. It gave me the confidence in my ankle to know I can come back out here and play on this and it’s nothing to worry about. I think I was probably a step slower just because I was hesitant about making moves and shifting to my left ankle.”
Now that Cunningham has this full offseason to recover, he’s hoping to be fully healthy for next season as he should be a vital part of Dayton’s plans under new head coach Anthony Grant. While Cunningham didn’t put up big numbers last season, in large part due to minutes restrictions and his injury, he has the potential to be one of the better frontcourt players in the Atlantic 10 next season.
VCU took a tough blow to its future on Wednesday night as the school announced in a release that freshman Samir Doughty intends to transfer.
The 6-foot-4 Doughty had a very productive freshman year for the Rams as he put up 9.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
The Rams are going to look quite different next year in new head coach Mike Rhoades’ first season. The only returning starters at the moment are senior guard Johnathan Williams and forward Justin Tillman and Doughty was one of the young pieces expected to step up into double-figures as a scorer next season.
Rhoades is the third VCU head coach in four years so he is going to have to deal with a roster and a program that craves stability the next few seasons. Things should end up being okay as long as Rhoades can bring in talent, but that’s going to be something to watch as he tries to overhaul this roster to make it his own.
St. Bonaventure pulled in a potentially solid transfer on Thursday as UNLV guard Jalen Poyser pledged to the Bonnies.
The 6-foot-4 Poyser just finished his sophomore season in which he averaged 10.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game game for the Runnin’ Rebels.
Poyser will have to sit out one season and will have two seasons of eligibility after.
Poyser will have to improve his low shooting percentages during his time at UNLV, but he is capable of putting up points and scoring from multiple levels of the floor.
Former VCU power forward Mo Alie-Cox will try his hand at football as ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reported on Thursday that he signed with the Indianapolis Colts.
Alie-Cox spent four years playing college hoops at VCU as he averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Alie-Cox was undersized to be a bruising forward like he was in the Atlantic 10 but he has great size to play tight end in the NFL as he’ll try to stick behind Colts starting tight end Jack Doyle.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen college basketball players transition to tight end as others like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates have done it before.
It’ll be interesting to see if Alie-Cox can make the switch to football because it is a pattern we should continue to see with undersized college forwards in the future.