Despite the firing of Wright State coach Billy Donlon, the two recruits he signed last year are still planning on playing for the Raiders this fall.
“Most likely I’m going to stay,” said Ryan Custer, a 6-foot-7 forward from Elder High School in Cincinnati. “I really wanted to play for Coach Donlon, but I liked the campus and everything else the school has to offer.”
Everett Winchester, a 6-6 guard from Baltimore, is leaning the same way.
“Of course I’m waiting to see who the new coach is going to be, but I picked Wright State not only because of Donlon and Coach (Patrice) Days, who was a big reason for me committing to Wright State, but also because of the school,” Winchester said. “When I visited, I really enjoyed the campus and thought it was the best place for me.”
The contracts of assistant coaches Scott Woods, Kevin Devitt, Bill Donlon Sr. and Days expire in a couple of months, and it will be up to the next coach whether to retain them, athletic director Bob Grant said.
Winchester and Custer said they were surprised — and concerned — when they heard of Donlon’s firing when it was first reported March 16.
“I had heard a lot of stories about kids that lost scholarships when something like that happens,” said Winchester, who found out about Donlon’s dismissal on Twitter.
Custer found out via texts from a friend and his AAU coach.
But both players said they were relieved to get a phone call from Grant after hearing the news.
“I didn’t want them or their families to panic or worry at all,” Grant said. “I told them here’s how we handle changes like that at Wright State: First, your scholarship is good here still. Don’t worry a thing about it. The new coach will honor that scholarship.
“And second, you have the best of both worlds,” Grant continued. “If you get here, or when the new coach gets on board and you meet him, and you decide that’s not the direction you want to go and this is different than what you thought it was going to be, then we’ll let you out with no penalty.”
While Days was the point man on recruiting Winchester, Donlon was the primary coach involed in landing Custer.
“He was at a lot of my games and every tournament,” he said. “I knew he was a great coach, and I heard how good he was at developing players individually. But as much as I was looking forward to playing for him, that wasn’t the only reason for my decision. Their facilities are really nice, and I really like the housing. Right now I’m just going to wait it out and see who the new coach is.”