DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – For the first time since 2016-17, the University of Dayton men’s basketball team is picked to finish first in the Atlantic 10 preseason media and coaches poll ahead of the 2022-23 season.

In addition, Flyers sophomore forward DaRon Holmes II, sophomore point guard Malachi Smith, and junior forward Toumani Camara have been selected Preseason All-Atlantic 10, according to a poll of the conference’s head men’s basketball coaches and selected media.  

The Flyers received 428 out of a possible 435 voting points, with 22 first-place votes.  Saint Louis was close behind, with 411 points and the remaining seven first-place votes.

The next grouping had VCU in third place (370 voting points), league newcomer Loyola in fourth (315 points), George Mason fifth (300), defending regular-season champion Davidson sixth (294) and 2022 A-10 tournament champion Richmond seventh (276).

UMass, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, Fordham, George Washington, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Duquesne rounded out the preseason predictions.

Holmes was named First Team Preseason All-Atlantic 10 and also to the Preseason A-10 All-Defensive Team.  The 6-10 forward from Goodyear, Ariz. was the 2022 A-10 Rookie of the Year, and was also the only freshman listed among the 18 players named first, second or third team All-Atlantic 10 (he was second team).  He was also the only freshman named to the league’s All-Defensive team in 2021-22.

He led the league and was second nationally in field goal percentage (.649, 183-282).  For the Flyers, he led the team in scoring (12.8) and was second in rebounding (6.1).  He set the Flyer single-season block record in 21 games, breaking “Big Steve” McElvene’s record of 55 that was set in 32 games.  Holmes now has 81 blocked shots.

Smith was named Second Team Preseason All-Atlantic 10 and joined Holmes on the All-Defensive Team.  He had one of the best seasons by a Flyer freshman point guard ever in 2021-22, with the best assist-to-turnover ratio (2.61), most steals (59) and second-most assists (175 total, 5.3 avg.).  He led UD in FT% (.784, 76-97), was second in 3-pt. FG% (.400, 20-50) and third in scoring (9.3). 

The Bronx native was also second in the A-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio.  All others in the top five were in at least their third season of college basketball.  Prior to suffering a season-ending injury against Richmond in the A-10 semifinals, Smith has 27 assists and three turnovers in his last five games.  UD was 22-8 in games he started and finished.  He was named to the 2022 A-10 All-Rookie Team.

Camara was also named Preseason Second Team All-Atlantic 10.  A year ago, the transfer from Georgia made history when he was the first immediately-eligible transfer to earn preseason accolades in Atlantic 10 Conference.  He kept up with that by being named Third Team All-Atlantic 10 at the end of the 2021-22 season.

The Flyer captain led UD in rebounding (6.9) and was second in scoring (10.8).  He was a catalyst in the Flyers recovering from a rough start to being the first team out of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.  After making four of 24 three-pointers in the non-conference season (.167), Toumani Camara made 16 of 35 (.457) in A-10 play. The native of Brussels, Belgium scored double figures in 12 of his last 15 games last year, averaging 11.1 points a game.  In those games, he shot .471 (16-34) from three.

Camara, Holmes and Smith were Dayton’s White Allen Co-Most Valuable Players last year. 

They are three of the five starters UD returns from a team that finished 24-11 in 2021-22, and tied for second in the A-10 with a 14-4 record. Included in those 24 wins was a win over eventual national champion Kansas, another Elite Eight team (Miami), an NIT semifinalist (St. Bonaventure) and four teams that won their regular season or conference championship in Kansas (who did both), Virginia Tech, Davidson and Richmond. 

Dayton returns 163 of a possible 175 starts, 90% of possible minutes played, 91% of the scoring and 92% of the rebounding from 2021-22.