Bigger than basketball

Pictured is former UD basketball player Obi Toppin. Photo credit Olivia Shirk for Flyer News

Clare Mathews | Sports Editor

The Dayton Men’s Basketball Team unofficially opened the 2023-24 season this past weekend with a charity exhibition game at the University of Dayton Arena. The game was aimed to place a spotlight on adolescent mental health, suicide prevention and to honor the life of Coach Anthony and Chris Grant’s daughter, Jayda. 

The players and coaches of both teams wore shirts that read “Take Hope To The Hoop” on the front, and “Beat The Stigma” with the Spotlight Game Logo on the back. Additionally, on each and every seat in the UD Arena, there was a T-shirt bearing the logo and words “Spotlight: To Shine a Light on Mental Health for Jay’s Light.”

During a media timeout, CareSource made $50,000 in donations to both the Suicide Prevention Foundation and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Additionally, Obi Toppin, former Flyer star and current Indiana Pacer, surprised the Grants with a $20,000 donation directly to Jay’s Light, the foundation created to honor their daughter.

The game was a great success, in particular, for two newcomers to UDMBB, Enoch Cheeks and Nate Santos. Cheeks led the Flyer in scoring with 17 points; 15 of those points from three-pointers. Santos stood out on the defensive end, pulling down seven rebounds in his first game as a Flyer.

Five other new Flyers: Marvel Allen, Javon Bennett, Issac Jack, Petras Padegimas and Jaiun Simon, also stepped on the court for their very first time in a UD uniform. Each of them recorded their first points as Flyers as well. Aside from Cheeks, Padegimas was the newcomer with the most points with eight total. Simon went one-for-one in blocked shots of the three recorded in the game.

Junior forward DaRon Holmes II had 10 points in just 16 minutes of play. Kobe Elvis, a junior guard for the Flyers, spent the most time on the court for UD with just under 24-minutes of play. Close behind him was junior guard Malachi Smith who spent over 22 minutes on the court.

Although the Flyers fell short to the Ohio State Buckeyes, 78-70, the focus of the evening was not on just the game. This event was bigger than basketball. The UD Arena was sold out, with proceeds going to the Suicide Prevention Foundation, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Jay’s Light. Timeouts in the Arena and social media promotion for the game was focused on normalizing and spreading information about mental illness.

The Flyers will face Cedarville University this Saturday, Oct. 28, for another exhibition game at UD Arena.

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