While they have a similar story, they also have one that is quite different, one that paints their brawny 6-foot-9 teammate Loudon Love – “Big Lou” as he’s known – as either a comforting teddy bear or a stand-on-his-hind-legs mauling grizzly.
First, though, the similarities for Wright State’s Jaylon Hall and Grant Basile.
They are the two Raiders’ basketball players who are returning this year after missing last season due to injuries that required surgery for each in December.
Hall, a 6-foot-5 sophomore from Houston by way of Doss High in Louisville, said he felt his left shoulder “pop” when his arm tangled with a Green Bay player while they went for a rebound in a game late in his freshman (2017-18) season.
While it seemed to get better after that, he said he suffered another “pop” in practice two weeks before last season was to start and this time “the pain was excruciating.”
He missed the exhibition game and the opener, but tried to play against Murray State and struggled mightily. He went 0-for-9 from the floor and was in such pain afterward he knew something needed to be done.
He had a torn labrum and a rotator cuff injury and had surgery in early December.
Basile, a 6-foot-8 freshman from Pewaukee, Wisconsin, had had a tendon problem in his left ankle his senior season at Pewaukee High – where he played for his dad, Mike Jr. — and said it got progressively worse at Wright State last year as he prepared for his freshman campaign.
Officially diagnosed as peroneal tendon subluxation, he had surgery Dec. 15.
While the physical recovery for each of them was a long, slow, but steady process, Basile said, “The mental aspect was the toughest part.”
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“That’s when reality hit. I’d never sat out a season before and you kind of just take playing for granted. You’re thinking you’re invincible. That you’re a superhero and you’ll never get hurt … until it happens.
“There were a couple of times early in my injury when I didn’t really know if I was going to get through it. I just felt overwhelmed. My spirit was hurt and I was in a real, real bad spot.”
Basile said he awoke from surgery in a hard cast and after a few weeks that was replaced by a boot he wore for a month as he navigated campus on crutches.
Hall’s arm was cradled in a sling, even at night when he tried – mostly unsuccessfully – to sleep while sitting upright on the floor against the wall.
Sitting on the bench at games, where players are shoulder to shoulder and often jumping up and down with the flow of the game, he found his sore shoulder being inadvertently bumped.
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“Some of the guys were kind of rambunctious and would come to the bench and sit down quickly and not realize they were banging into me,” he said. “It got to the point where I needed a designated person sitting on the left side of me who knew at all times that if I stood up, I had to sit down first and they had to sit down – carefully – right after me.
“At first, James Manns had the job, but then it was kind of taken over by Big Lou. I don’t know how that happened, but he was the only one always careful enough not to bump me. Lou was always the most gentle. I know, I was there.”
These days, though, no one is closer to Love than Basile.
With his ankle healed and a recent bout with mono finally over, he’s back practicing as the team prepares for a 10-day trip to Italy, which begins Friday.
During drills now he often finds himself guarding Love and “gentle” is not the way he described Big Lou.
While he admits being caught by an elbow or two and moved around by a well-leveraged Love forearm or beefy shoulder, he said “it’s a blessing to play against him. He’s the best big man in the Horizon League – he’s really physical – and he’s probably the best overall player in the league, too. It’s a challenge going against him, but it’s only going to make me better.”
Hall left Houston for Louisville as a high school freshman to play for his cousin – former University of Louisville star and longtime pro, Tony Williams – whom he calls his “uncle.”
Basle comes from a basketball family, too. His grandfather Michael Basile Sr. played college ball in South Dakota and then was a longtime high school and college coach in Wisconsin. His dad, Mike Jr., played at Ripon College and was his prep coach in Pewaukee.
Basile has a twin sister, Brooke – he also has a half-brother and two half-sisters — who has opted for the academic route at Valparaiso University.
He said Wright State was the first school that recruited him and in the end – although other schools had begun to court him – it was the only one he visited. He said the facilities were better than he expected – “they’re incredible,” – he liked the players and was especially sold by the ongoing success Scott Nagy has had as a head coach.
When Hall came to Wright State, he had considerable success that freshman season.
He played in 33 games, averaged 9.1 points and had several big outings, including 17 points against Ohio Valley, 16 against Youngstown State and 15 versus Oakland.
His injury hampered the Raiders last season. They had a short bench and Nagy often brought up his absence.
Hall said he needed the support of several people last season – especially his dad – to get through the situation.
Basile reached out to those closest to him – including his mom, Lisa Nass – and said he shared an unfortunate bond with his girlfriend, Kaitlyn Boelter Eberhardt, a volleyball player at North Central College, as well:
“She tore her ACL a couple of months after my injury, so we kind of leaned on each other.”
As they’ve gone through the 10 practices the NCAA allows a team before an international summer trip, Hall and Basile both claim they are now “100 percent.”
They need to be with the talent-laden squad Wright State has this season.
“This is the first time since I’ve been here that we have a full team and can have a full practice,” Hall said. “We have 15 guys and we can sub each other out. It feels good. But right now a lot of guys are on the same line. Nobody has really separated themselves yet to prove they belong in Coach’s top seven. That’s how many players he normally plays during the year – seven or eight. So right now guys are really trying to establish themselves.”
He and Basile are both looking forward to the three games the Raiders will play in Italy. It will finally be a chance to play alongside their teammates.
And that’s the part of the story where they are most similar.
“I haven’t been healthy since the end of my senior year, so it really feels good to be out here moving around, improving, trying to help the team any way I can,” Basle said.
Hall’s grin said the same thing:
“I haven’t been more happy in my life than I am right now.”
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