Love flirting with career records at Wright State

Senior center poised to become program’s all-time leading rebounder

Loudon Love never looked at himself as someone who would flirt with career records at Wright State when he first arrived on campus. The 6-foot-8 center weighed 300-plus pounds then. He was just hoping he could develop into a Division I basketball player.

But he worked diligently to reshape his body while redshirting his first year. And after a promising maiden season when he was named Horizon League Freshman of the Year, he began setting long-term personal targets.

“After my freshman year, I lined up some career goals — like trying to get to 2,000 points, although I’ll probably be short of that with some of the illnesses and injuries I’ve had. The other half of that was to get 1,000 career rebounds,” he said.

“I’ve never really looked at the (all-time) stats, but I know I’m getting close to my goal. There’s been a lot of great basketball players at Wright State. If I get to join them somewhere in there or even surpass them, that’s a great honor.”

The fifth-year senior from Geneva, Ill. — now a fit 255 — averaged 15.9 points last season, giving him 1,365 for his career. Bill Edwards' record of 2,303 was always out of touch, but 2,000 would have been reachable if Love hadn’t missed 15 games for various ailments, including six a year ago with a fractured elbow.

If the Raiders play 27 games, the NCAA regular-season maximum, Love would need to average 18.0 to surpass DaShaun Wood for No. 2 on the all-time points list with 1,850.

Edwards, who played from 1989-93, also is first in career rebounds with 907, though he won’t stay on that perch for long. Love, who averaged 9.7 last season, needs only 26 to move into the top spot.

But someone else will have to let him know when he hits that milestone because he won’t be keeping track.

“I honestly don’t go into a game thinking about stats ever. That’s just not my way,” Love said. "For one, I’ve been more goal-oriented on championships, and when you’ve tasted it once like my freshman year (the Raiders won the league tourney and earned an NCAA berth) and in the regularseason last year (they captured their first outright crown), it overshadows all those individual goals.

"That goes back to the selflessness on this team. I think we have a lot of guys buying into that. As a leader, I can do the same thing and buy into it every day. It makes those roles easier for everyone else for sure.

“There are bigger things at play. It’s not about me, it’s about us and Wright State and the community around Wright State — now, more than ever, when there’s so much going on.”

The reigning league player of the year will draw most of the attention from opponents again, but the Raiders will be surrounding him with a proven supporting cast.

Tanner Holden, a 6-6 sophomore, looks like a future star after averaging 12.1 points (third on the team) and 6.5 rebounds (second). He had a 27-point, 17-rebound effort against Toledo on is way to making the league all-freshman team.

The long-armed Grant Basile, a 6-9 sophomore who also made the all-freshman team, gives the Raiders the option of either going big at times or taking comfort in knowing they have a supersub on the bench.

“With his length — and he very much has become more physical, too — and with how I like to get position for rebounding, we can be one of the best rebounding teams in the country, especially when you factor in Tanner,” said Love, who is on a school-record pace with a 9.2 average for his career.

“Andre Harris (a redshirt freshman combo guard) will definitely pick up some rebounds, and Tim Finke (a 6-6 transfer from Grand Canyon) will get on the glass. Rebounding should not be a major issue for us unless we’re just not locked in. If Grant and I are able to play at the same time, that will just help the cause.”

Racking up points shouldn’t be a challenge, either. Jaylon Hall, a 6-6 junior, averaged 9.1 points as a freshman and 7.2 and a team-best 2.9 assists last season. And while Basile averaged a modest 6.2, he was a beast while starting when Love was out: 13.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.

Another player who could be poised for a breakout year is sophomore point guard Trey Calvin.

“He played a lot for us last year and got good minutes down the stretch because he was playing pretty well, and he’s been shooting the ball exceptionally well,” Love said.

“We’ve got a lot of pieces on offense. It just goes back to who’s committed on defense. I think we can each do our part and all have a big impact on both sides of the floor.”

The NCAA announced that all winter sports athletes — just like those in the fall and spring — won’t have to count this season toward their four years of eligibility.

That means Love could return in 2021-22 as a sixth-year senior and blow past Edwards on the scoring list. But the amiable big man also has put himself in position to get paid for playing, either in the NBA or overseas.

“I’m just trying to do the best I can with this whole year and be the leader I can be and see how it goes. With the games I’ve been injured, nothing is guaranteed,” he said.

“Honestly, the challenge is do the best I can with my four years, but I know what (coming back) would mean for the program, too. There’s a lot of thought that goes into it, and I’m going to save most of that for after the season.”

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