Coach Gregory Press Conference
University of Dayton men's basketball coach Brian Gregory and his staff landed their fifth strong recruiting class in his five years at UD, as the Flyers received National Letters of Intent today from their 2008 incoming freshman class.
The newest official members of the Flyer family are 6-10 forward/center Josh Benson of Dayton Dunbar High School, 6-9 forward Luke Fabrizius of John Hersey High School (Arlington Heights, IL), 6-5 guard/forward Chris Johnson of Columbus (OH) Brookhaven High School and 6-3 guard Paul Williams of Detroit Renaissance High School.
The 2007-08 signing class is ranked as high as 37th in the country (HoopScoopOnline.com) and features three Street & Smith's High School All-Americans. Benson, Johnson and Williams each received High Honorable Mention notice. In addition, Rivals.com lists Benson, Williams and Fabrizius as the best members of this class in the Atlantic 10 at power forward, shooting guard and small forward respectively.
"One of the unique qualities of this recruiting class is the prestige of the programs they have grown up in," Gregory said. "They each play for some of the most successful programs in their states - Dayton Dunbar, Columbus Brookhaven, Detroit Renaissance and John Hersey. These players have also competed at some of the highest levels of AAU basketball -Dayton Metro, All-Ohio Red, The Family out of Michigan and the Illinois Warriors. This group has battled for championships at the state and national level, and that can only help in their transition to college basketball."
All four had previously verbally committed to UD. Benson committed on November 1, 2006, five days before the 2006 fall signing period began. Johnson was next, making his college choice known on June 10. Williams verballed on August 1 and Fabrizius completed the class on September 9. As a group, the newest Flyers chose Dayton after getting scholarship offers from schools that included members of the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac 10. Each player signed with UD today.
"We're extremely excited to bring these four high-character young men into our program," Gregory said. "These four are clearly another step forward in our plans to bring athletic, versatile players with a skill package that fits into our style of play to the University of Dayton."
"Our staff has again done a tremendous job of evaluating players, recognizing how they mesh with our needs and not being afraid of rolling up their sleeves getting to work on what turned out to be some highly competitive recruiting battles."
Benson is an athletic big man who has had the luxury of playing for the powerful Dunbar Wolverine program. Dunbar is one of the few schools in Ohio that has had an abundance of big men in the program, which meant as a younger player he was challenged by bigger and stronger players in his own program. That situation paid dividends when Benson came through in the 2007 OHSAA Division II championship game. He scored 16 points was named MVP of the game as Dunbar won its second straight state title.
For the year, he averaged 9.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks rebounds and was named Third Team All-Ohio. Heading into his senior year, Benson is one of the top ten prospects in the state of Ohio, and the No. 5 rated power forward in the combined talent pool of Ohio and Michigan. He is the second straight top prospect in the Dayton area to sign with UD, linking up with current Flyer freshman Chris Wright.
Coach Gregory on Josh Benson: "Josh's early commitment to us really set the tone for this recruiting class. We are very excited to have the best local player in his senior class to join our program. Josh has a tremendous future because of the potential he has. His length and athletic ability grab your attention right away, but his skill level is what is going to set him apart in the future. It was great to see him combine all that with his competitive drive in last year's state tournament."
Although Fabrizius (pronounced Fah-BREEZ-ee-us) was the last member of the class to decide on Dayton, he has three connections with Flyer coach Brian Gregory that go back 22 years. Gregory and Fabrizius are both products of Hersey High School, and the man who was Gregory's coach when he finished playing in 1985 - Don Rowley - was still the coach when Fabrizius began playing varsity basketball. And Fabrizius' current coach - Steve Messer - was a teammate of Gregory's on the Hersey team that went to the Illinois Elite Eight.
One of the best outside shooters in the Midwest and one of the best-shooting players of his size in the country, Fabrizius is a two-time Daily Herald All-Area selection. As a sophomore, he averaged 10.6 points as Hersey won the 2006 Mid-Suburban league championship.
Last year, he led Hersey to a 22-6 record, averaging 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots a game. He shot 43 percent from three-point range and 88% from the free throw line. In two seasons as a varsity player, he has already made 110 three-pointers.
A nationally-ranked high school forward (Rivals.com has him rated 23rd), Fabrizius is considered one of the top 20 prospects in the state of Illinois.
Coach Gregory on Luke Fabrizius: "It's no secret that Luke is regarded as one of the best shooters in the country, and for someone to have that tag at his size is a very unique skill set. But his continued development as a complete player is what has excited about his future. He's played against some of the best competition in the country, has been extremely well-coached at the high school level and is only going to improve as a college player."
Rated one of the "10 Most Improved" players in Ohio by Prep Spotlight after the 2006-07 season, Johnson averaged 24.4 points, 13.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks a game last season for Columbus Brookhaven High School. Johnson was an Associated Press Second Team Division I All-Ohio selection (current Flyer Chris Wright was on the first team).
He stepped up his game as a junior after a solid sophomore season where he was the only player among the team's top ten players who was not a senior. After he moved into the starting lineup in mid-January, Brookhaven advanced to the OHSAA Sweet Sixteen.
The smooth lefthander is rated the seventh-best prospect in Ohio by Hoop Scoop Online and Prep Spotlight, and even at 6-5, is one of the best rebounders in the state. After a strong summer on the AAU circuit, Johnson was the MVP of the All-Ohio Slam & Jam Showcase in October.
Coach Gregory on Chris Johnson: "It only took watching Chris make a couple of trips down the floor for me to know his game would be a great fit for our program. He's a tremendous athlete, and the kind of player who can play multiple positions. He really rebounds, can run the court and finish on the break, and is very effective at creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. The level of his high school program will prepare him well to make a smooth transition to college basketball."
Another left-handed guard, Williams is a consensus Top 100 player known for his defense as much as his offense. Despite playing most of the 2006-07 season on injured right leg, Williams averaged 20.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds, and was also named to the Detroit Public School League's All-Defensive Team.
A player with a reputation for doing whatever is needed to win, he held last year's PSL Player of the Year 20 points under his season average, and later in the year scored 55 points in a game against Southwestern High School. He is considered to be a front-runner to be named the PSL's Player of the Year and a contender for Michigan's Mr. Basketball.
As a sophomore, he averaged 17.5 points a game on Renaissance High School's 2006 state championship team. He has started for his high school since his freshman season. This summer he led his AAU team, The Family, to second place at Nike's Peach Jam tournament in North Augusta, South Carolina.
Coach Gregory on Paul Williams: Paul will be a great addition to our program because of his ability to play well on both ends of the court. He's one of those players who just finds a way to win. He's capable of scoring the big bucket, or locking down the opponents' top guy and keeping him from scoring the big bucket for them. He comes from one of the most prestigious programs in the country, and brings a toughness about him that will serve him well in our program."
The Flyers, who beat Atlantic Sun favorite East Tennessee State 78-74 to open the season last Saturday, return to action this Saturday with a game at the team predicted to win the Colonial Athletic Association, George Mason. Game time is 7:00 p.m. EST.