The coach in Billy Donlon looks forward to the open tryouts he holds every year at Wright State because of the slim chance he might uncover a diamond in the rough.
“I always believe in that,” he said. “Kids get missed. Kids go through growth spurts. I believe, at a place like Wright State, that has a diverse student population, it is possible.”
The main purpose of the walk-on tryouts at 4 p.m. next Thursday at the Setzer Pavilion/Mills Morgan Center is to find extra bodies for practice. Wright State currently has two walk-ons: 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Stephen Gossard, of Waynesville, and 5-11 guard Daniel Collie, of Parkersburg (W.V.) Catholic.
Donlon isn’t going to add players just to get to a certain number. If no one sparks his interest at the tryouts, he’ll move forward to the start of practice Oct. 12 with what he has.
“Every coach has a different belief system,” Donlon said. “My college coach (Jerry Wainwright at UNC-Wilmington) was a terrific coach. There are very few things he did that I am not implementing. He carried between five and seven walk-ons when I was a player.
“To Coach Wainwright’s credit, if you were a non-scholarship player and he put you on the team, you were treated like every other player. I agree with that, but when you take five to seven guys and put them on the team, the problem is who’s getting all the reps.”
Roddy has surgery
Jacoby Roddy, a 6-9 freshman forward from Manual High School in Peoria, Ill., will miss six to nine weeks after having surgery Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.
“It was a pre-existing condition,” Donlon said. “Give our people credit. He had an MRI in Peoria. I don’t know if it was there and it was missed, but the MRI didn’t show he had a meniscus issue. When we did the MRI, they found it, and he had the surgery.”
Steven Davis, a 6-7 freshman wing from Manual High School in Indianapolis, verbally committed to the Raiders in August. There was some question about his status among fans because his signing was never announced, and his name wasn’t on the roster on Wright State’s website.
But Donlon said Davis signed and is at school and on the team.
“He’s a very talented young man,” Donlon said. “He’s going to be able to play multiple positions. He reminds me of N’Gai Evans. The only thing N’Gai was missing was he just needed to gain weight. Over time, he went from 135 to 178, and he was an all-conference player at the end. Steven is similar. He’s a legit 6-7, and he might weigh 170. He’s going to have to make the same progression.”
With the departure of assistant coach Clayton Bates to Western Michigan last week, Donlon moved Brendan Mullins from his position as director of basketball operations to coaching assistant.
The search for a replacement for Bates has begun.
“It is September, and guys might be a little more tentative to leave right now,” Donlon said. “We’re looking at all of our options, and obviously we have to follow the hiring guidelines and practices of Wright State.
“Clayton was a great coach and terrific person. He spent 11 years of his life in Kalamazoo, 10 years as an assistant. His two girls were born there. His wife is from there. Those kind of circumstances come up once in a blue moon. We wish Clayton nothing but the best.”
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