Archdeacon: ‘Brotherhood’ fuels Wright State’s 2K seniors

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

FAIRBORN — The first time he saw the Nutter Center he was amazed.

When Wright State was recruiting him out of St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, a northwest suburb of Chicago, Trey Calvin knew very little about the school and nothing about its basketball arena.

“People said Wright State was a mid-major — not a big school — so I didn’t expect them to have this big, huge gymnasium,” Calvin said as he stood outside the Raiders’ dressing room Saturday night after WSU’s 94-88 victory over Northern Kentucky in the regular season finale at the Nutter Center. “The first time I saw this place was on my recruiting visit and it definitely pulled me to Wright State. I was thinking this could be as great place to play. This place could be special.”

Later, on his first day on campus, he gravitated to the Nutter Center court and began shooting around. Soon he was joined by another freshman.

Tanner Holden, who was from Wheelersburg, had come to shoot, as well.

The two didn’t know each other, but they soon formed a bond.

“We had our goals in mind, and we got straight to work,” Holden remembered. “And it’s been a blessing to work alongside someone as dedicated, as consistent as him.”

Fast forward to Saturday night and there stood Calvin and Holden, together in the middle of the Nutter Center court before the NKU game began. It was Senior Night and as they were joined by their family members and WSU head coach Scott Nagy, many in the crowd of 5,232 stood and applauded them.

They are the only pair of teammates — in all of Division I college basketball this season — who have both scored over 2,000 career points.

Calvin now has amassed 2,119 points in his five seasons at WSU. He’s second on the Raiders all-time scoring list, behind only Bill Edwards, who had 2,303 from 1990-1993.

Holden has 2,076 points, although 97 came last season when he transferred for a year to Ohio State, but played sparingly.

He has 1,979 points at WSU and could top the 2K mark as a Raider in Thursday night’s Horizon League tournament game — against NKU once again — at the Nutter Center.

Holden is No. 3 on the WSU career scoring list.

Calvin, who played all 40 minutes Saturday even though he said he was still feeling the effects of an illness that hampered him three nights earlier in an overtime loss to Purdue-Fort Wayne, led WSU with 23 points and spent the whole night bird-dogging NKU star Marques Warrick, who ended the game on a torrid scoring spree and finished with 39 points.

Calvin’s 19.6 ppg average is No. 5 among Horizon League scorers this season, while Warrick is third at 19.9.

Holden — who’s averaging 16.1 points, ninth in the Horizon League — got close to a triple double Saturday. He had 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Asked about their staggering production — 4,195 points between them — Calvin said : “I think that just speaks to our dedication and hard work. Everything we’ve done is because we’ve been in the gym working hard.”

“I think we both make each other better,” Holden said,

Calvin agreed: “We came together as freshmen and have done everything together. We developed a brotherhood.”

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

Finding their fit at Wright State

Both came to WSU with something of a chip on their shoulders.

Holden was the bigger star in high school. He was a finalist for Ohio’s Mr. Football and drew interest from Ohio State and Michigan. Instead, he committed to play basketball at Marshall, where his dad, Rodney, had been a hoops standout.

At the last minute, Marshall pulled the offer. Holden said he heard they thought he wasn’t enough of a scorer.

Forced to scramble, he signed with WSU, immediately scored 21 in his first college game and then started 91 games in a row over three years before he jumped to OSU last season.

Overshadowed by two other college-bound players on his high school team, Calvin had just two Division I offers — UIC and Wright State.

Freshman year he came off the bench and averaged just 4.8 points a game. Although he started as a sophomore, he didn’t come into his own until well into his junior season.

“It was mostly just about me gaining confidence,” he said.

He showed a sunburst of it when WSU made its run though the 2022 Horizon League Tournament and into the NCAA Tournament,

He led WSU out of a 16-point deficit in the Horizon League title game against NKU and hit the game-winning jumper in the final seconds to send the Raiders into the NCAA Tournament.

Holden then took center state in the Raiders’ First Four victory over Bryant at UD Arena — scoring 37 points and grabbing 11 rebounds — to lift WSU to its first-ever Division I NCAA Tournament victory.

“That year in the (Horizon League) Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, Trey was tremendous,” Nagy said. “He was our best player. In that NKU game, it wouldn’t have been close in the first half if it wasn’t for Trey.”

After the Raiders fell to No. 1 Arizona, Holden transferred to Ohio State. Grant Basile also left for Virginia Tech, and the two departures were a real blow for WSU.

Calvin stepped into the void and put the Raiders on his back last season. As Nagy put it earlier this year, he became “The Guy” and won first team all-conference honors.

From afar, both Holden and Calvin followed each other.

“We talked during the season for sure and I caught couple of his games,” Calvin said, then grinned: “I saw his game winning shot (a three-pointer that stunned Rutgers at the buzzer.)”

Holden said he watched every WSU game he could: “I saw (Trey’s) game-winner against Louisville, and I was running around the apartment going crazy.”

Holden showed up at the Nutter Center for Senior Night last year and that helped rekindle his desire to return.

When he sought to return to WSU, he said he reached out first to Calvin: “I thank Trey for allowing me to come back and play alongside him and find that love (of the game) again.”

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

‘We knew what was at stake’

Saturday night, as Calvin took the court with his family before they game, he said it was a “bittersweet” moment. More than reminiscing, he needed to focus if the Raiders wanted to host Thursday night’s tournament game. If they lost, they would play on the road.

“We knew what was at stake,” Holden said. “We had to come out with the right mindset, and I think we did a great job of that. I appreciate everybody making our Senior Night special.”

No one did that better than Holden, said Nagy:

“It didn’t help Tanner leaving (for OSU) and then coming back and trying to fit in where he wanted to. I felt like for three-fourths of the season he was bothered if he was not scoring. But the last five games he’s playing as good of basketball as I’ve seen him play all year, in terms of consistency, his rebounding and his defense is better. I really like where he is now.”

Holden likes where he and his team are, too, and believes the tournament experiences he and Calvin had in the past will help now:

“These are the moments people live for…(But) when tournament time comes around, people can tense up. People can get scared and kind of be out of character. But I think that’s our advantage. We’ve done this before and (now) we’re peaking at the right time.”

With Holden — his “brother” — back in the fold and their 18-13 team playing better, Calvin summed it up:

“Things are perfect now.”

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