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Two key veterans returning to Dartmouth men’s basketball

  • Dartmouth's Brendan Barry drives into the lane against Yale's Trey Phills in the first half of their game in Hanover, N.H., on Feb. 2, 2019. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file — Geoff Hansen (above)

  • Brendan Barry

  • Aaryn Rai, of Dartmouth, carries the ball down the court while under pressure from Jordan Goodson, of Thomas, left, at Leede Arena in Hanover, N.H., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Dartmouth was up 51-23 at the half. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

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Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/6/2021 9:00:03 PM
Modified: 7/6/2021 9:16:11 PM

HANOVER — Dartmouth College men’s basketball is bringing back two key veterans for the 2021-22 season.

After playing for Temple University as a graduate transfer last winter, Brendan Barry is returning to Dartmouth for one final season. Aaryn Rai is also coming back to the Big Green.

The Valley News has learned that Barry and Rai will take advantage of the NCAA’s waiver granting all athletes an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rai adjusted his schedule to allow for a fifth undergraduate year to use that extra eligibility. Barry is making use of the Ivy League’s exception allowing graduate students to play sports next season. The Ivy League is still not allowing graduate transfers, but Barry will be allowed to return to the Big Green because he graduated from Dartmouth in December 2020 before he suited up for Temple.

“Thrilled to have (Brendan) and Aaryn back for another year,” Dartmouth head coach David McLaughlin said. “Anytime you have older players — and older players with significant experience — it’s going to really help. Experience is extremely valuable at the college level.”

Barry played for the Big Green from 2016-19. The guard missed the 2019-20 season with an injury and was granted a fifth year for medical hardship. He used that extra year at Temple, where he suited up in all 16 games for the Owls and played the fourth-most minutes per game on the team.

Barry averaged 6.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per contest at Temple. He shot 44% from the field and 45% from 3-point range.

When he left for Temple, he didn’t think he’d ever get the chance to return to Dartmouth.

“I thought never in a million years that they’d pass this rule about grad students, and then that they’d actually allow me to come back when they passed that rule,” Barry said. “There was zero thought in my head that I’d ever be back here playing.”

Barry was Dartmouth’s team MVP as a junior in 2018-19. He hit 1,000 career points at Dartmouth the next season and moved into the program’s top 30 career scoring leaders with 212 points. In his three seasons with Dartmouth, he shot 45% from the field and 44% on 3s.

It’s rare for a player to leave Ivy League men’s basketball for a season and then return. While playing at Temple, Barry faced stiffer competition — including one game against Houston, an eventual NCAA Final Four team. He said Temple wasn’t the right fit for him and that joining the team so late — he arrived two days before the Owls’ first game — undoubtedly made that tougher. But Barry relished the opportunity to play a high number of minutes at that level.

McLaughlin is hoping Barry can provide insight from his time in Philadelphia that will benefit Dartmouth.

“I think he’s grown as a player, because he played (last season). But I want to know how much he’s grown as a leader,” McLaughlin said. “All this experience, what he’s seen in a different league and how our team does things differently, how can you bring that back? And not just as a player for us, but as a leader for us?”

Rai was named Dartmouth’s most improved player as a junior in 2019-20. He was the team’s leading rebounder that season at 6.5 per game, as well as the second-leading scorer at 11.2 points per game. For his career, he’s a 46% shooter from the field and a 36% 3-point shooter. Rai could also reach 1,000 career points next season, as he’s 392 points shy of the milestone.

Rai entered the NCAA transfer portal in late September 2020, but he never intended to leave. He only stayed in the portal for a few weeks before making his decision to come back to Dartmouth.

He has lofty goals for his final season.

“First and foremost, I think that we have as good a shot as any — and also as we’ve ever had — at winning the league. I think that we have a bunch of talent on our team from top to bottom and a bunch of guys who really want to compete,” Rai said. “Individually, shooting for Ivy League player of the year. I’ve been here a while, accomplished, and I had a good junior year, and I think that’s the next step for me.”

Chris Knight, a second-team All-Ivy selection in 2019 who was in the same class at Dartmouth as Rai, is not returning. He’s sticking with his transfer to Loyola University Chicago.

Barry and Rai coming back will certainly improve Dartmouth’s outlook for the coming season. McLaughlin is not yet sure how much their returns will impact his team’s goals and its ceiling. Dartmouth doesn’t reconvene as a team until mid-September, and practice doesn’t begin until the end of September.

“You’re just not going to know until you have everyone together and see how we are clicking, what type of shape they’re in,” McLaughlin said. “There’s so many questions. But having older players that have played significant roles and significant minutes never hurts.”

Octopus Athletics was first to report that Barry and Rai will return.

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.




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