The 2019-20 Dayton Flyers team poses for a team picture in front of a packed UD Arena after winning the Atlantic 10 Regular Season title. Photo courtesy of Keegan Gupta, Flyer News.
With the conclusion of the 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournament occurring at the beginning of this month, the Baylor Bears were crowned champions of college basketball. Dayton fans around the country are all still left to wonder, what could have been last year?
The best team that Dayton has had in terms of AP ranking since the 1955-56 season, were unable to show the country truly how good they were. Although being ranked #3 in the AP poll, it was still believed that the country did not believe in the Dayton Flyers despite their 29-2 record and being winners of 20 straight. The team still had much to prove, and that opportunity was taken away from them on March 12, 2020 when it seemed like the sports world came to a stop due to COVID-19.
The last time we saw this team was an eventful Saturday in March. It began with College Gameday visiting Dayton for the first time ever and ended with the Flyers capping off their perfect season in the Atlantic 10 against George Washington. Another dominant performance by the Flyers allowed for them to cut down the nets at UD Arena and celebrate a regular season championship. Over a year later we are still left thinking what could have been, and we look back at where the team is now.
Head Coach Anthony Grant: Grant is still with the Flyers, and with an AP Coach of the Year to his name after leading the Flyers in 2019-20. Grant took great advantage of the success and attention that the Flyers gained from their wonderful season and put together a top 25 recruiting class, as well as adding some important transfers. Grant is looking forward to getting the Flyers back on track after a relatively down season.
Obi Toppin: The No. 8 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft is a part of a surprisingly good New York Knicks team that is well and truly in the hunt for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Toppin is getting just over 10 minutes a game and averaging 4 points and 2 rebounds per game, underwhelming stats for a lottery pick. But his limit in minutes is largely related to his counterpart, the favorite for Most Improved Player in the NBA, Julius Randle. Randle has taken a huge step up in his game this year, and that limits Obi’s minutes because they play the same position. Although Obi’s limited involvement, he still has several show-stopping plays that we remember all too well from his time at Dayton.
Trey Landers: The starting forward for the 2020 Flyers team is still chasing his basketball dreams. Landers signed a two-year deal with the Ratiopharm Ulm, a professional basketball team in the Basketball Bundesliga (Germany). Back in the states Landers participated in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) with the Red Scare (a team made up primarily of past UD players) last year and reminded everyone how special he was having several top performances. Landers plans to play in this year’s tournament as well.
Ryan Mikesell: The starting forward opposite of Landers for the 2020 Flyers has taken a similar route as Landers did. Earlier this year Mikesell signed a contract with the Tubingen Tigers, the team in the second level of basketball in Germany. Mikesell is also a part of the Red Scare team from last Summer and plans to participate with the team again this year. Mikesell was also looking to get his feet wet in the broadcasting team for ESPN+, unfortunately both of the games he was set to broadcast were postponed/cancelled.
Jalen Crutcher: The starting point guard for the Flyers was on everyone’s radar at the beginning of the year as he was named to the Naismith Trophy watchlist (the best player in college basketball). A trophy that his teammate Obi was able to walk away with in 2020. Although most would say the Flyers underperformed this seasons, Crutcher’s play was spectacular, leading the Flyers in scoring with 17.6, and adding in over 3 rebounds and close to 5 assists per game. These stats allowed for Crutcher to be named to First Team All-Atlantic 10 for the second consecutive year. The future for Crutcher is still up in the air but is expected that he is going to go to the NBA.
Rodney Chatman: The starting guard opposite of Jalen Crutcher for the past two years missed several weeks during the season due to a hand injury. When he was on the court Chatman was consistent on both ends of the court, his defense and ability to disrupt an offense is something that the Flyers will definitely miss. Chatman added his name to the transfer portal last month and has committed to Vanderbilt University where he will carry out the rest of his eligibility.
Ibi Watson: The sixth man for the 2020 Dayton Flyers stepped his game up as a starter for the Flyers this season. Averaging close to 16 points per game and shooting 41% from three, Watson was the consistent scorer next to Crutcher for the Flyers all season. Watson was named to the conference’s third team. It is still unknown what the next step for Watson is, but due to the new NCAA rule, he still has a year of eligibility if he chooses to use it.
Jordy Tshimanga: The starting center for the 2021 Flyers had huge shoes to fill after what Obi Toppin did the year before. Tshimanga took massive steps up in all aspects of his game from 2020, averaging close to 7 points and 8 rebounds. The 6’11 Canadian was a staple in the Flyers lineup the entire year. Tshimanga was named to the A-10 All Academic Team and has his future in front of him.
Dwayne Cohill: An energetic spark plug off of the bench for the 2020 Flyers had his 2021 season cut short. Cohill tore his ACL in a non-contact drill during a workout in October. Cohill has added his name to the transfer portal and will continue his basketball career somewhere else.