Dayton Basketball received unexpected but good news with the return of forward Chase Johnson for the upcoming season.
One of the biggest questions this offseason involved Dayton Basketball; mainly about who the starting forward on the team was going to be for 2019-20. In late June, there wasn’t a clear answer on the roster or from available transfers out there. Now that has changed, with the return of forward Chase Johnson.
Over a year ago, Johnson joining the Flyers was big news, after transferring from Florida after two years of not playing much. The former top-100 recruit received a waiver to play, adding to the depth of the team. But he never ultimately found a big role for Dayton Basketball in the first 11 games of the season, averaging 5.1 ppg in 11 mpg, with the bulk of the production coming from an 18-point effort against Houston Baptist.
But seemingly out of nowhere, an announcement was made that Johnson was departing from the team due to a medical leave of absence. The greatness of National Player of the Year Obi Toppin and solid production of senior forward Ryan Mikesell made his absence absolutely this past season in the frontcourt but with both of them now gone, Dayton needed to find a replacement in the frontcourt, particularly at the power forward position.
But despite having a historically good season, a star in Toppin making national news, and multiple available scholarships, the Flyers couldn’t get anyone to bite on the transfer market. They did land former top-50 USC guard Elijah Weaver, but that wasn’t an area of weakness for the team. It was in the frontcourt, with only centers Jordy Tshimanga and redshirt freshman Moulaye Sissoko on the current roster. There literally wasn’t any who could reasonably play that position, forcing them to automatically play small and get killed on the boards by bigger A-10 teams.
But with the confirmation that Johnson is coming back for his junior campaign, Dayton finally gets someone who could start at the four-spot. At the bare minimum, he’s a body that can deal with bigger forwards and defend against more versatile athletes that a Tshimanga may struggle against. And now that Toppin is gone, he can finally have a decent role to display his talents. Johnson was a former top-100 recruit out of high school for a reason.
As for Dayton, this allows them to compete for another Atlantic 10 Conference title. Even without Toppin, this team is in a “win-now” position, thanks to the return of guards Ibi Watson, Rodney Chatman, and Jalen Crutcher, all who will be seniors this upcoming season. Throw in Johnson and Tshimanga, you have a legit starting lineup that can compete with fellow A-10 preseason favorites Richmond and Saint Bonaventure. There wasn’t a better available forward for the Flyers to get at this point, so welcome back Chase Johnson! The Flyers will need you to have a big campaign in 2020-21.