By: Meaghan McNichol – Staff Writer
The Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team has rapidly improved over the last few years, not only measured by success in March but also evidenced by alumni success professionally.
Currently there are at least a dozen players from UD playing professional basketball both in the United States and overseas, making it the sport with the highest number of graduates playing at the professional level from the university.
2012 graduate Chris Johnson and 2008 graduate Brian Roberts are two former Flyers who have had success in the NBA.
Brian Roberts played for Dayton from 2004-2008 and signed with his current team, the Charlotte Hornets, in July. Roberts inked a two-year, 5.59 million dollar deal.
While at Dayton, Roberts played in a total of 125 games, averaging 15.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
By the end of his career at UD he totaled 1,945 points, making him the fourth all-time leading scorer in the program’s history.
During his career at Dayton, Roberts received Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team honors, All-Atlantic 10 second team honors twice, and All-Atlantic 10 first team honors.
Chris Johnson, a 2012 graduate, has had experience playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Johnson was the team’s co-MVP in his senior season helping lead them to a winning record of 20-13 during the 2011-2012 season while averaging 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
Johnson believes Dayton’s basketball program prepared him well for the NBA.
“I had two coaches there in four years and each of them had different philosophies but I learned a lot from each coach and the practices, the drills and the games helped me prepare for the NBA,” Johnson said.
His success continued in the NBA where he signed as an undrafted free agent. He has played a total of 57 games for three teams.
“When you get to the professional level everybody is good, so you have to work harder,” Johnson said.
In Johnson’s experience he has realized that it is important to find your niche and constantly work to improve in order to catch the attention of a professional team. In and out of the NBA, Johnson understands the hard work necessary to stick with a team in the league. In November, Johnson played seven games with the 76ers, before being scratched from the roster.
“Every NBA team has something different they are looking for and if you can capitalize in one thing that you’re good at and get great at it then you’ll have a chance to get around the NBA,” Johnson said.
Roberts is currently doing big things in the NBA.
He plays point guard for the Hornets and has been putting up points this season.
During a stretch in late November, Roberts averaged 17.6 points per game over a three-game span and has added a valuable backcourt presence for the Hornets.
He’s been an asset to the Hornets both offensively and defensively with 14 defensive rebounds, 24 assists, nine steals and a total of 127 points.
With a regular season average of 8.0 points and a regular season total of 1,360 points so far in his career, Roberts is continuing to improve as the season goes on.
Director of Media Relations at the university Doug Hauschild believes that the program is continuing to improve and as a result the number of players who get the chance to play professionally will have a greater impact.
“Although it will be hard for the number to increase, I believe future players will go to better quality leagues and have longer careers,” Hauschild said.
As more and more players from Dayton find success in the NBA, the recruiting process for the university will benefit tremendously.
“Every player coming out of high school has dreams of playing in the NBA. As we have more Flyers playing in the NBA, it can only help to show recruits that you can get to the NBA by coming to UD,” Hauschild said.
In the thread of UD players before him, head coach Archie Miller’s current team features an NBA draft hopeful.
Current senior Jordan Sibert has been listed in several recent NBA mock drafts going into the second round, which is auspicious in his attempt to continue his career professionally.