Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top 25 Player Countdown. Each day, we publish a new article counting down the 25 best players in the Atlantic 10 this past season, as voted by our staff. Today, we feature #8 Josh Cunningham of Dayton.
Under new leadership, Dayton had a difficult time getting anything going during the 2017-18 season. The Flyers seemed to have a number of key pieces, but they never put them together. Perhaps the most important piece was Josh Cunningham, the transfer from Bradley who had an impressive junior campaign. Injury kept Cunningham out of the Flyers’ lineup for the majority of the 2016-17 season, but he came out swinging as a junior, scoring 22 points (including the game-winner) and grabbing 7 boards in the Flyers’ season opening win. It’s unclear whether the UD program will make improvements from last year; Josh Cunningham would obviously have to play a major role in getting UD back to the top of the A-10.
Josh’s career-high in scoring came against the A-10 Regular Season Champions, the Rhode Island Rams, at UD Arena where he dropped 32 points by hitting 13 field goals. He’d also grab 12 boards which wouldn’t be unusual for the junior; Cunningham grabbed 8.4 per contest. Perhaps Josh Cunningham’s best asset was his ability to take over in late game scenarios when given the ball. Coach Anthony Grant didn’t utilize the big man as often as he should have, but the Flyers did see Cunningham become their obvious leader, especially down the stretch.
Cunningham also had a 29 point, 18 rebound night against Georgia St., a game that the Flyers would sneak away with in overtime. He improved not only as a scorer, but he also saw assists go up quite a bit. The Dayton offense didn’t always run smoothly in 2017-18, but when it did, Cunningham always got a touch in the post.
23.3%. Josh Cunningham had a 23.3% defensive rebounding rate last season, a number that put him in the top 100 nationally. He had 4 nights with at least 10 defensive rebounds as well.
10. Josh Cunningham had 10 double doubles this past season, and he was known for crashing the boards with intensity. I could only imagine he’ll have more as a senior, and his scoring and rebounding numbers should go up.
As mentioned, Josh Cunningham was the guy in the paint who delivered when the Flyers needed him. Unfortunately, Dayton often looked lost in late game scenarios, and first year head coach Anthony Grant took a lot of blame for that. If the Flyers want to be effective next season, Cunningham has the skill set to make them dangerous. He’s also proved his ability to be unselfish and set his teammates up with open looks. When it comes to Josh Cunningham, the Flyers absolutely need the offense running through the big man next season.
Previously: #9 B.J. Johnson