A new season brings many new faces to the Dayton Flyers. With four highly touted transfers and a true freshman, a plethora of new talent will be on display in Dayton this fall. In addition to the newcomers, the Flyers also retain nearly everyone from last year’s roster. Only graduating one senior (Josh Cunningham), Dayton is excited to have nearly everyone else back. Of course, Dayton’s biggest news of the summer came when A-10 Rookie of the Year and All Conference First-Teamer, Obi Toppin, announced he would return to UD for his sophomore season. Toppin explored his NBA Draft status and gained valuable experience before returning to the Flyers. Outside of that, it’s been business as usual at UD. Now that you’re caught up, let’s dive into a player by player breakdown of Dayton’s 2019-2020 men’s basketball roster.
Obi Toppin – RS Sophomore, Forward
Coming off one of the best freshman seasons in the history of Dayton basketball, it’s no secret Obi Toppin will be priority No. 1 on every opponent’s game plan this year. Scoring a combined 37 points in his first two games as a Flyer, Toppin burst onto the scene in 2018 and continued to improve throughout last season. He finished the year averaging 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Toppin’s most impressive statistic, however, was his insane efficiency rate. The freshman big man shot 67% (!!!) from the floor and 52% from three (21 attempts). If Toppin combines this offensive output with minor defensive and rebounding improvements, he could very well end up winning A-10 Player of the Year. Everyone around Dayton can not wait to see what the sophomore phenom will do this season.
Jalen Crutcher – Junior, Guard
Dayton’s starting point guard from the time he was a freshman, Jalen Crutcher has carried a lot of weight on his shoulders the last two years. While he has handled the responsibility exceptionally well, extra point guard help and an influx of talent comes as a welcomed sight for Crutcher. Last season the sophomore guard averaged a solid 13.2 points and 5.7 assists per game. With more talent around him this year, I think Crutcher’s efficiency numbers and assist rate will skyrocket. As one of many options on offense, Crutcher will now be able to pick his shooting spots and really utilize his passing skills.
Ryan Mikesell – RS Senior, Forward
One of only two seniors on Dayton’s 2019-20 roster, Ryan Mikesell brings a lot of experience and leadership to the Flyers. At 6’7″ Mikesell can be a jack of all trades. He helps stretch the floor as a three point threat, but also contributes on the glass. Averaging 10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds last year, the St. Henry, Ohio, product was a key piece for the Flyers. Mikesell is now looking for a strong finish to his Dayton career and, most importantly, a return to the NCAA tournament.
Dwayne Cohill – Sophomore, Guard
Emerging as Dayton’s best defender last season, Dwayne Cohill proved himself to be an important player for the Flyers. Although he didn’t score a lot, Cohill’s grit earned him comparisons to former Flyer great Kyle Davis. In addition to Cohill’s value on the defensive side of the ball, I also expect his scoring to begin coming around. A former ESPN top 100 recruit and lethal offensive player at Holy Name high school, I have no doubt the sophomore guard will start scoring buckets when he needed. In the meantime, however, he can continue filling a valuable defensive role for the Flyers.
Jhery Matos – RS Junior, Guard
Although Jhery Matos is technically a returning player, he may seem to fans like a newcomer of sorts. After playing well in his first six games as a Flyer, Matos suffered a heart-breaking season ending injury against Oklahoma. Completing a long rehab process, the redshirt junior is finally back, healthy, and primed for a big year. Based on what we saw in the fall of 2018, Matos has the potential to be a lock-down defender for Dayton. At 6’5″ he’s big enough to hang with forwards, yet still has plenty of quickness to stay with smaller guards. It’s unclear what Matos’ offensive role will look like, but he has a smooth jump shot and the ability to take defenders off the dribble. The casual fan might not know who he is yet, but watch for Matos to be a strong contributor this season.
Trey Landers – Senior, Guard
A Dayton native entering the final year playing for his hometown college, Trey Landers is looking to finish his career how it began: in the NCAA tournament. Despite being listed as a guard, Landers has played more of a power forward position throughout his career as a Flyer. Much like the role his brother Robert “BB” Landers plays on Ohio State football’s defensive line, Trey Landers has been referred to as Dayton’s “bulldog.” In fact, Landers led the team in rebounding last season, averaging 6.7 boards per game. Although his minutes will decrease this year as a result of the new guys coming in, expect Landers to continue providing a boost on the boards off the bench.
Ibi Watson – RS Junior, Guard
A 6’5″ transfer from Michigan, Ibi Watson comes to Dayton with a lot of hype. Watson was a sophomore on Michigan’s national runner-up team in 2018. He played in 26 games for the Wolverines that year and even scored a couple points in the national championship against Villanova. Along with Obi Toppin, Watson is the only other Flyer virtually guaranteed to start this year. There will be multiple battles going on for starting spots at Dayton, but you can expect to see Watson playing as the Flyers’ primary small forward come November. UD fans should be beyond excited to see how Ibi and Obi will compliment each other this season; I mean heck, even their names compliment each other.
Jordy Tshimanga – RS Junior, Center
Transferring from Nebraska after his sophomore season, Jordy Tshimanga will undoubtedly be the biggest player on Dayton’s roster for the remainder of his career. Standing 6’11” and weighing 268 lbs, Tshimanga is a physical force to be reckoned with. I would certainly hate to be an opposing big man if Anthony Grant chooses to go with size and play Toppin and Tshimanga together at times this year. Time will tell how just how good Tshimanga turns out to be, but he certainly has a lot of potential.
Rodney Chatman – RS Junior, Guard
A 6’1″ guard transfer from Chattanooga, Rodney Chatman is expected to challenge Jalen Crutcher for the starting point guard spot this year. While I would still give the edge to Crutcher, you can’t go wrong with either of these guys. Even if Chatman does find himself coming off the bench, he will provide the Flyers with much needed point guard help. Dayton has been without a true back up point guard for years now, but thankfully those days are over. Chatman averaged 13.3 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Chattanooga. Crutcher and Chatman will make a deadly 1-2 point guard punch for the Flyers over these next two seasons.
Chase Johnson – RS Sophomore, Forward
A former four-star recruit and transfer from Florida, Chase Johnson is yet another player who comes to Dayton with a ton of potential. The biggest key for Johnson, however, will be staying healthy. Johnson continuously battled with concussions while he was at Florida, which sidelined him for the majority of last season. If Johnson can stay healthy, his athletic 6’9″ frame could make him a versatile, key contributor in Anthony Grant’s offense. With three years of eligibility remaining, Flyer fans should be excited to find out what all Johnson will be able to do at Dayton.
Moulaye Sissoko – Freshman, Center
Standing 6’9″ and weighing 248 lbs, true freshman Moulaye Sissoko is already a highly intimidating figure. Sissoko played for Lincoln Academy in high school and received 11 scholarship offers from schools including Florida, Cincinnati, and Xavier. With so much depth at forward/center for Dayton this year, it’s unclear what role Sissoko will play as a freshman. As a result of the depth, I think the Flyers may even consider redshirting him. Whenever Sissoko does make his Dayton debut, though, expect him contribute defensively and on the glass while his offensive game continues to develop. Make no mistake, Sissoko will develop into a beast on the block for the Flyers.
Starting Lineup Prediction:
Jalen Crutcher – 6’1″ Junior, Point Guard
Jhery Matos – 6’5″ RS Junior, Guard
Ibi Watson – 6’5″ RS Junior, Guard
Ryan Mikesell – 6’7″ RS Senior, Forward
Obi Toppin – 6’9″ RS Sophomore, Forward
Armed with 11 scholarship players all more than capable of playing quality minutes, Dayton has countless different lineups it could play with this year. Expect the Flyers to mix and match lineups throughout the first part of the season. With so many new players and such a deep bench, it will take Dayton some time to figure out its most productive lineups. I could be totally wrong, but if I had to guess Anthony Grant’s starting lineup on November 9th, Crutcher, Matos, Watson, Mikesell, and Toppin would be my best prediction.
Just two more months until college basketball returns. I, like all of you, can’t wait for the season to start. As always, thanks for reading. It’s going to be a fun year for both the Dayton Flyers and the Atlantic 10.
Featured Image Via David Jablonski – Dayton Daily News