University of Dayton basketball fans have to like the future they see, especially with Dayton Thurgood Marshall junior point guard Juwan Staten already committed to the Flyers.
The 5-10 Staten is one of the key catalysts behind the success story with All-Ohio Red, which recently won the It Takes 5ive AAU 16-and-under division at the University of Cincinnati.
Staten is a star in his own right, ranking as the state’s No. 3 basketball prospect for 2010. His All-Ohio Red team includes four other prospects among the state’s top six. That group includes Columbus Northland power forward Jared Sullinger (No. 1, committed to Ohio State), Dayton Jefferson center Adreian Payne (No. 2), Cincinnati Princeton wing Jordan Sibert (No. 4) and Columbus Northland wing J.D. Weatherspoon (No. 6).
“It’s real fun,” Staten said of playing with All-Ohio Red. “Everything is not all on you. Say you’re not having a good shooting game, everything doesn’t depend on you. You have teammates who can step up at any time. It just seems like it’s hard for a team to beat you.”
Staten took more of a leading role with his Thurgood Marshall varsity team this past winter. As a sophomore, he averaged 23.6 points and nine assists per game and earned first-team All-Southwest District honors in Division II. That followed his freshman season, when he averaged 19 points and seven assists.
“The best part of my game is probably my quickness and my open court decisions,” Staten said. “Whether it’s a drive or a pull-up or a dish, I know my job is to set up the offense. It’s just point guard play.”
At the It Takes 5ive, Staten showed he can handle the ball as he darted in and out of traffic and set up his teammates all tournament long.
“Since I’m not one of the tallest people out here, everything is predicated on quickness,” he said. “I have to make quick moves and create just enough space so I can do what I need to do.”
Staten had an offer from Xavier, but he opted to verbal to Dayton on Feb. 27.
“It was just the relationship I built with the coaches,” Staten said of his UD commitment. “A lot of coaches just tell you what you want to hear. They were real from the start. They told me coming in there would be things you have to work on. Most colleges talk about what they like about your game and what they can make you. But at UD, they told me what I needed to work on and the things I need to do to get to the next level.”
Staten will have a chance to play college ball in his hometown. But he likes the way coach Brian Gregory has built a program to contend in the Atlantic 10.
“It’s amazing,” Staten said. “The games are great. I look at the players they have recruited like Chris Wright, Paul Williams and Luke Fabrizius. And the people they are bringing in. They are bringing in some real good kids and I think they can compete with the best of them.”
Of course, Staten has two seasons of high school ball left at Thurgood Marshall. He is excited to get that season going in the fall.
“We ought to be a decent team,” Staten said. “We were young last year. We had a lot of sophomores on the varsity. That year of experience should take us a long way. We have been playing together since we were real little. We built a relationship. We know how each other play, so we should have a good season.”
First, though, Staten and his All-Ohio Red teammates want to wrap the summer on a high note. They will play in two events in Orlando, Fla., later this month – the AAU Super Showcase and the AAU 16-and-under national championships.
“Every time we come in, we know we have a big target on our back,” Staten said. “We have to fight and play hard from the start. People are coming after you and if you make one wrong move they can get you. You have to come out ready to play from the get-go. We know if we lose, people will say we’re overrated. It’s fun to play with this group of guys who understand that.”