3 reasons Josh Cunningham will be a stud in the 2017-18 season

There were high expectations for Bradley transfer Josh Cunningham before he took the floor for the first time as a Dayton Flyer. Heck, there still are high expectations. Unfortunately, the sophomore didn’t get a good chance to strut his stuff in the 2016-17 season. Going down with an awful leg injury in Dayton’s second game of the regular season, Cunningham would miss a massive chunk of the rest of the year. He didn’t come back until mid-February, and even when he did, his playing time was limited. A completely healthy Josh Cunningham will be a different story; with an offseason of rest and recovery, Cunningham is going to have a chance to be one of Dayton’s best players. Anthony Grant should be thrilled to have that kind of talent on his roster.

1. Josh Cunningham will be an elite rebounder

We didn’t get to see it because of limited playing time, but Josh Cunningham is going to be one of the best rebounders in the Atlantic 10. Cunningham had 10 in a game against George Washington last season despite playing only 24 minutes. He also had 4 games with multiple offensive rebounds last season, which isn’t too shabby given his limitations. Josh Cunningham was one of the best rebounders in the league as a freshman at Bradley. He had the 3rd best defensive and 8th best offensive rebounding percentages in the MVC his freshman season. He had 9 games with double-digit rebounds on a very bad Bradley team, including one contest with 21 total boards. That’s insane. Even though he was limited last season, expect Cunningham to crash the glass this year.

2. Cunningham will continue to be an efficient shooter from the floor

He hasn’t developed a three point shot yet (and I’m not sure he will), but Cunningham is pretty deadly from inside the arc. Though he took just 42 field goal attempts last season, he made 25 of them (59.5%). Cunningham shot better than 56% from two point range in conference play as a freshman, which ranked 7th in his league. Josh Cunningham is great at finishing around the rim, and he’s going to add some efficiency down low, something Dayton has lacked the last couple seasons. The Flyers have struggled to make easy shots in big-time basketball games, but I don’t believe that will be the case with Cunningham. He brings consistency on the offensive end of the floor, and when the Flyers get in a slump, he’s going to be one of the guys to pick them back up.

3. Next season will feature plenty of playing time

As he gets completely healthy, and spots open up in the roster, I guarantee Josh Cunningham is going to see a lot of time on the court next year. Quite frankly, I don’t believe the sophomore had a chance to shine, even when he wasn’t injured. The Flyers played him somewhat sparingly off the bench, and he was the obvious back up to Kendall Pollard. Next year will be a different case. The Flyers are going to mix and match their frontcourt with Josh Cunningham, Kostas Antetokounmpo, and Xeyrius Williams. Whether coming off the bench or in the starting lineup, Cunningham is going to be an integral piece. Honestly, Dayton has one of the better frontcourts in the league next season, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them go big and try to beat opponents on the inside (something completely new). Josh may even see some time at the 3 if Anthony Grant gets creative.

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Grant Labedz is a college basketball superfan who loves the entire sport but definitely has favorites in the A-10 and the Big Ten. He has written for ...