Josh Cunningham transfers to Dayton

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University of Dayton men’s basketball coach Archie Miller has announced that Josh Cunningham, a 6-foot-7, 216-pound forward from Chicago, is transferring to Dayton.  Cunningham will redshirt the 2015-16 season due to NCAA underclass transfer restrictions and will then have three seasons of eligibility for the Flyers.

“We couldn’t be more excited about Josh deciding to join our program,” Miller said. “He is the total package. Off the floor and in the classroom, he will really fit in with our campus community and academics are a high priority for him and his family.

“As a player he is hungry to get better, which has become a trait for guys that do well with us. He’s been a big winner throughout his life. He won two state titles at Chicago power Morgan Park High School, where he was coached by Nick Irvin. His grassroots experience with Mac Irvin Fire put him amongst the nation’s best players as well.

Having a year to sit and develop within our system will be good for him, plus having him competing all year in practice can only make us better.   Josh is really going to thrive here.”

Cunningham played last season at Bradley.  He led the team in rebounding (7.5), tied for team honors in steals (1.1) and averaged 7.9 points a game.   He also shot 43.4 percent from the field (96-221), 23.4 percent from 3-point range (15-of-64) and 57.0 percent at the free-throw line (53-of-93).  He upped his averages to 8.5 points and 8.4 rebounds in Missouri Valley Conference play.

He was the second-leading rebounder in the MVC and was named to the league’s All-Freshman Team.     Cunningham was also fifth nationally among Division I freshmen in rebounding, with a high of 21 boards at Missouri State.

A high school teammate of current Dayton co-captain Kyle Davis at Morgan Park High in Chicago, Cunningham was a Top-100 prospect (No. 98 on the ESPN Top 100) coming out of high school.  Cunningham and Davis were cornerstones on Morgan Park’s 2013 Illinois state championship team, and then he helped Morgan Park repeat in 2014.

Cunningham averaged 21.6 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists as a senior in 2013-14, when he earned first-team all-state honors from the Associated Press and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.  He was regarded as high as the 98th–best player in the nation as a prep senior in 2013-14.    After sitting out, he will have one season on the court with Davis and fellow Chicagoan Kendall Pollard (Simeon) before they graduate.

The newest Flyer will be in the same graduating class as next year’s UD freshman class.  This deep and talented group consists of 6-foot-2 point guard John Crosby, 6-foor-11 center Steve McElvene, 6-foot-7 forward Ryan Mikesell, 6-foot-8 power forward Sam Miller and 6-foot-8 forward Xeryius Williams.  McElvene sat out last season but practiced with the team, while the other four are true freshmen.

Dayton was 27-9 and advanced to the Third Round of the NCAA tournament this season.  The Flyers return four starters – rising senior Dyshawn Pierre, and rising juniors Davis, Pollard and Scoochie Smith — and eight letterwinners.  The quartet will serve as UD’s 2015-16 co-captains.

In addition to the previously mentioned newcomers, Miller and his coaching staff will also add wing Charles Cooke for the 2015-16 season.  Cooke is eligible after sitting last year as a transfer from James Madison.  Cooke averaged 14.3 points a game and was named Third Team All-Colonial Athletic Association as a sophomore at JMU.

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