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Mid-Major Power Rankings: Dayton Star DaRon Holmes II Has Flyers Soaring

Mid-Major Power Rankings: Dayton Star DaRon Holmes II Has Flyers Soaring

DaRon Holmes II has Dayton flying through a 12-game winning streak, and has established himself as a mid-major conference player worthy of major awards.

Jan 22, 2024 by Kyle Kensing
Mid-Major Power Rankings: Dayton Star DaRon Holmes II Has Flyers Soaring

With the college basketball season a little more than halfway complete, it's not too early to start considering end-of-season award candidacies. A variety of mid-major standouts have steadily built cases for All-American consideration in 2023-24, and it's a group headlined by the star of this week's FloHoops Mid-Major Power Rankings No. 1, Dayton big man DaRon Holmes II. 

Holmes has Dayton flying with 12 straight wins, all but three of which have been by double-digit-point margins. He heads into the week of Jan. 22 on an incredible tear with outings of 33 points and 12 rebounds in a 72-62 win over Duquesne; 29 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in a 70-65 defeat of Saint Louis; and 21 points, six rebounds and three blocks in just 24 minutes played during a 96-62 blowout of Rhode Island. 

Holmes' rim-rattling offensive game in the paint and tenacity on the glass is reminiscent of another All-America caliber Dayton Flyer, Obi Toppin. Toppin's sensational 2019-20 ended abruptly due to COVID-19, but Holmes and this year's Dayton squad will get the opportunity to make the Final Four push Toppin's squad didn't. 

Among the other stars from the mid-major leagues deserving of postseason award consideration as February fast approaches: 

Johnell Davis, FAU 

Part of the beauty of FAU's Final Four-proven attack is its balance. Eight Owls average 6.5 points per game or more as a result of the team's uncanny ball movement and unrelenting, off-ball cutting. That coach Dusty May's approach emphasizes sharing the basketball, Johnell Davis' 18.4 points per game are all the more noteworthy, and unsurprisingly, the result of better than 50 percent shooting from the floor. 

Without dominating the ball, he's been the cog behind some marquee FAU wins, scoring 30 against a good UAB team, 34 in an overtime marathon against UTSA, and 35 in one of the top individual performances of the season vs. Arizona. 

The 6-foot-4 Davis averaging 6.8 rebounds per game also embodies the physical, junkyard-dog style that FAU touted as central to its Final Four run a season ago. 

David Jones, Memphis 

Despite the two-game slide in American Athletic Conference games, which dropped Memphis from the top spot in the FloHoops Power Rankings, David Jones played a pair of games that underscore his excellence against USF and Tulane. 

The Tigers forward scored 25 points and shot 60 percent from the floor in the 74-73 loss to USF, and had 32 points with 11 rebounds at Tulane. For the season, Jones is averaging 21.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. 

Jaedon LeDee, San Diego State

If San Diego State makes it back to the Final Four, Jaedon LeDee will be a key reason why. The Aztecs forward posted double-doubles in three of San Diego State's first five Mountain West Conference games, including a 22-point, 12-rebound showing with 7-of-9 shooting from the floor and three steals against Nevada on Jan. 17. 

LeDee put together a run of four straight 20-plus point games beginning with the Aztecs' win at Gonzaga, and he shot 57 percent or better from the floor in three of them. 

Great Osobor, Utah State 

His Most Valuable Player showing at the Cayman Islands Classic set Great Osobor on course for what has been a spectacular 2023-24. 

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Osobor is averaging nearly a double-double per game at 18.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 59.4 percent from the floor. His presence on the interior has been the primary reason Utah State ranks No. 13 nationally shooting inside the 3-point arc.  

Isaiah Stevens, Colorado State

If college basketball has a parallel to Tyrese Haliburton this season, it's Colorado State's Isaiah Stevens. The Rams guard drives his team's prolific offense in much the same way as the Indiana Pacers Most Valuable Player candidate, able to either score in buckets or set up teammates with equal efficiency. 

Stevens is averaging 17.2 points per game and, most impressively, shooting north of 51 percent from the floor and an eye-popping 47.1 percent form 3-point range. His 7.2 assists per game rank third in the nation through Jan. 21. 

Trazarien White, UNC Wilmington 

The nation got an introduction to Trazarien White when he erupted for 27 points in UNC Wilmington's landmark victory at Kentucky. While the most high-profile performance of White's stellar 2023-24, his showing at Rupp Arena has pretty much been SOP for the versatile, 6-foot-7 wing. 

White is coming off of a monster week in which he paced UNCW to wins at Elon with 31 points, 11 rebounds and six rebounds, then followed up with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists in a defeat of rival Charleston. 

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As the Seahawks have soared to four consecutive Coastal Athletic Association wins, White 20.3 points — right in line with his overall season output of 20.7 points per game — and 8.5 rebounds per game. His production on the glass has improved his season-long average to 6.5. 

As for helping UNCW to the win over Charleston, White and Seahawks remain in the hunt for a regular-season championship — much to the delight of the raucous Trask Coliseum faithful. 

The energy generated at UNCW in its 78-69 win highlighted one of several games that impacted this week's Power Rankings. Charleston joined Memphis (USF and Tulane), Boise State (UNLV), Grand Canyon (Seattle), Nevada (Wyoming) that dropped league matchups with teams not appearing in the FloHoops top 15. 

Those results are testament to the parity shaping an especially chaotic, and especially entertaining, college basketball season. 

Games to Watch Jan. 22-28

Monday, Jan. 22

McNeese at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m.

Hofstra at Stony Brook, 9 p.m./6 p.m. 

Weber State at Montana, 9 p.m./6 p.m. 

Tuesday, Jan. 23

Dayton at La Salle, 6:30 p.m./3:30 p.m.

UAB at Charlotte, 7 p.m./4 p.m.

Saint Joseph's at UMass, 7 p.m./4 p.m. 

Loyola Chicago at VCU, 7 p.m./4 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 24

Radford at UNC Asheville, 6:30 p.m./3:30 p.m. 

George Washington at Richmond, 7 p.m./4 p.m.

UNC Greensboro at Western Carolina, 7 p.m./4 p.m. 

Colorado State at Nevada, 10:30 p.m./7:30 p.m. 

Thursday, Jan. 25

Vermont at UMass Lowell, 6:30 p.m./3:30 p.m.

SMU at North Texas, 7 p.m./4 p.m.

Drexel at Towson, 7 p.m./4 p.m.


Friday, Jan. 26

Saint Joseph's at St. Bonaventure, 8:30 p.m./5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 27

Towson at Delaware, 2 p.m./11 a.m. 

North Carolina A&T at Drexel, 2 p.m./11 a.m. 

Princeton at Cornell, 2 p.m./11 a.m. 

Cal Baptist at Stephen F. Austin, 3 p.m./12 noon 

Utah State at Boise State, 4 p.m./1 p.m.

Colorado State at Wyoming, 4 p.m./1 p.m.

Charlotte at Tulane, 4 p.m./1 p.m.

High Point at Winthrop, 4 p.m./1 p.m.

UNC Wilmington at Stony Brook, 4 p.m./1 p.m.

James Madison at Appalachian State, 4 p.m./1 p.m. 

Vermont at Bryant, 4 p.m./1 p.m. 

Dayton at Richmond, 6 p.m./3 p.m. 

Bradley at Indiana State, 6 p.m./3 p.m. 

Cal State Northridge at UC Irvine, 10 p.m./7 p.m. 

Sunday, Jan. 28

North Texas at FAU, 1 p.m./10 a.m. 

Northern Kentucky at Youngstown State, 1:30 p.m./10:30 a.m. 

Quinnipiac at Fairfield, 2 p.m./11 a.m.

Memphis at UAB, 5 p.m./2 p.m.

Nevada at New Mexico, 10 p.m./7 p.m. 

Jan. 22 Top 15

1. Dayton 

Dayton continues to roll with 12 straight victories, the second-longest streak in the nation. A challenging few weeks await the Flyers in Atlantic 10 play, with road dates in four of the next six, including three against KenPom top 100 opponents Richmond (Jan. 27), Saint Joseph's (Feb. 6) and VCU (Feb. 9). 

2. New Mexico 

In a tumultuous week for the rest of the top of the Mountain West, New Mexico emerged unscathed. The Lobos followed their 18-point win over San Diego State on Jan. 13 with a 13-point defeat of Utah State last Tuesday, then the Lobos took care of business by 19 on the road at Air Force. 

Jaelen House has steadily picked up his performance since missing the first month of the season, particularly on defense with at least three steals in three of the last five games. 

3. Utah State

Utah State fell victim in The Pit, as so many highly ranked opponents have in the history of New Mexico's home court. The setback ended a 15-game winning streak, but the Aggies recovered nicely by blowing out Fresno State. 

They have a full week off before going into Boise State for another challenge in what is proving to be a meat grinder of a season for the Mountain West. 

4. San Diego State

For evidence into just how rigorous the week-to-week grind can be for MW teams, look no further than San Diego State. The Aztecs dropped 2-of-3 since rolling off seven straight, but those defeats came on the road in league play to New Mexico and on Saturday at Boise State. 

Another marquee road date awaits on Jan. 30, when San Diego State visits Colorado State, but the Aztecs should not overlook a Wyoming team that stunned Nevada in a game that proved every single night in the Mountain West presents a potential pitfall. 

5. FAU

FAU has regrouped well since dropping 2-of-3 over a stretch to end 2023 and begin 2024, building on hard-fought conference wins over Tulane and UAB with defeat of Wichita State and UTSA. 

The Owls have scored at least 85 points in each of their last four wins. 

6. Memphis 

The bad news for Memphis? It lost consecutive games last week to tumble from No. 1 in the Power Rankings all the way down to No. 6. The good news? The last time the Tigers dropped consecutive decisions — Nov. 24 to Villanova and Dec. 2 at Ole Miss — the won the next 10 in a row. 

7. Colorado State 

It wasn't easy recovering from consecutive road losses at Utah State and Boise State, as Colorado State needed overtime to get past Air Force last Tuesday before a nail-biting finish vs. UNLV on Friday. 

The Rams' Herculean comeback to down the Runnin' Rebels at home pushed Colorado State back above .500 in a tight Mountain West race. 

8. Drake 

Drake hasn't just won every game since its Jan. 7 loss at Belmont. The Bulldogs have dominated all comers since, with the 89-78 win over Indiana State on Jan. 10 the most competitive over the current run. 

Drake maintained first place in the Missouri Valley last week with 21 and 39-point blowouts of Illinois State and Evansville. Coupled with an 18-point win at Southern Illinois on Jan. 13, Drake has gone three straight games without allowing an opponent to hit 60 points. 

9. Indiana State

The nation's most effective offense in field-goal shooting and one of the premier 3-point shooting teams in the country showed off its range in a 72-63 road win over Murray State. The Sycamores went 13-of-27 from deep, with four different players knocking down multiple triples. Robbie Avila's 5-of-9 set the pace. 

ISU also notched its 50th win in coach Josh Schertz's tenure last weekend. 

10. Boise State

While a 68-64 home loss to UNLV brought Boise State's impressive four-game winning streak to an end, the Broncos rallied impressively with a 67-66 defeat of San Diego State. 

The Aztecs were the seventh KenPom top 100 opponent Boise State has knocked off this season, and third appearing in this week's Power Rankings. 

11. Saint Mary's

Saint Mary's ranks among those teams Boise State beat, and the 63-60 contest on Dec. 1 marked the penultimate loss for a red-hot Gaels bunch. They ripped off their sixth straight win and took over first place in the West Coast Conference with a 77-60 romp on Saturday over a good San Francisco team. 

Aidan Mahaney has stepped up his production during the winning streak, including shooting 5-of-10 from 3-point range en route to 22 points vs. San Francisco. Big man Mitchell Saxen has been productive on the interior, both provided reliable scoring in the paint and a rim-protecting presence on defense. 

12. Princeton

The Princeton winning streak reached six, though the Tigers got a stiff challenge from Columbia in a 70-62 win over the weekend. Caden Pierce is emerging as Princeton's pillar in tough matchups, delivering a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double vs. Columbia; 21 points and eights rebounds on Dec. 30 vs. Delaware; 19 points and seven rebounds vs. Drexel; and 22 points with 11 boards vs. Furman. 
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13. Grand Canyon 

Grand Canyon's 14-game winning streak ended on Saturday in the first date of a potentially treacherous road swing for the Antelopes. They visit Stephen F. Austin and UT Arlington before getting Seattle in a rematch on Feb. 1. 

An interesting wrinkle to the matchup with Seattle last week is that the duo of Tyon Grant-Foster and Gabe McGlothan combined for 53 points, but the rest of the Lopes — including Ray Harrison, who limited due to foul trouble — scored just 26. 

14. Gonzaga 

This has been an unusually trying season for Gonzaga basketball, setting at 13-5 and potentially on the outside of the NCAA Tournament as of Jan. 22. The next couple weeks may well determine the Bulldogs' postseason fate, beginning this Thursday when they host San Francisco. 

The Dons are the first of three opponents ranked No. 63 or better in KenPom metrics Gonzaga faces through Feb. 10, with a Feb. 3 home date against rival Saint Mary's and a trip the next week to Kentucky looming. 

15.  Samford 

Welcome to the Power Rankings, making its first appearance and owner of the nation's longest winning streak, Samford. Coach Bucky McMillan's brand of high-tempo basketball has the Bulldogs rolling to 17 straight victories. 

In those 17, Samford hit 80-plus points 13 times; 90-plus points six times; and triple digits in three. The Bulldogs' style thrives on scoring balance, with five players averaging between 8.3 and Achor Achor's team-leading 16.8 points per game, and generating scoring opportunities in transition. Samford ranks sixth nationally in defensive possessions resulting in steals, and top 100 in blocked shots behind Achor's 1.7 per game. 

Bucky Ball is rolling, and the coach earned National Coach of the Week with Samford continuing to pile up wins.