Wright State basketball: Basile bounces back, fuels Raiders’ surge

Junior was named Horizon League Player of the Week on Monday

FAIRBORN — Anyone can pick out the reasons Wright State has won at least a share of the last three Horizon League regular-season titles: talent, effort and coaching.

The formula hasn’t changed this year. But if the Raiders go on to win a fourth in a row, the most important factor may be one that outsiders never see.

“We’ve stayed together,” said junior Grant Basile, who on Monday was named Horizon League Player of the Week. “We write on the board (in the locker room), ‘Brotherhood over basketball.’ That’s our motto this year. Through slumps, ups, downs, good wins or bad losses, we’re sticking together.”

That all-for-one-and-one-for-all attitude has certainly gotten the Raiders through some rough patches and into the thick of the league race.

It’s also helped Basile work his way out of a troubling slump.

The preseason first-team all-league pick was averaging 18 points going into a key stretch against two other conference contenders at the end of January.

He had nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in 30 minutes against Northern Kentucky and five points while going 2 of 7 in 32 minutes against Cleveland State. He tried four 3-pointers and missed them all.

With one of their top weapons malfunctioning, the Raiders lost both games.

“It was obviously a rough stretch for me. I just wasn’t playing great basketball,” Basile said.

“But I’ve got a lot of great teammates (who were saying), ‘Keep your head up, keep your head up.’”

Another voice that’s been in his ear throughout his life — his father and former high school coach in Pewaukee, Wisc., Mike Basile — also found just the right words to stay.

“He’s been really supportive. He still has that coach talk. He’ll go, ‘Do you want me to talk to you as your father or your coach?’ Obviously, he does a really good job handling both,” the younger Basile said.

“He’s always there for me, supporting, when I’m going through a lull. He always telling me, ‘Trust your work. You’ve put in the time. You do everything right in the offseason. Just trust it.’”

The 6-foot-9, 240-pound junior had one more clunky half, scoring five points on 2-of-7 shooting in the first 20 minutes against Purdue Fort Wayne, but he erupted for 16 points after halftime.

In wins on back-to-back nights last week against Detroit Mercy and Oakland, Basile was a threat again all over the floor.

He had 29 points — the third-highest total by a Raider this season — against the Titans and 16 against the Grizzlies.

He went a combined 18 of 25 from the floor and yanked down 19 rebounds.

Junior wing Tanner Holden has emerged as a league player of the year candidate, and junior point guard Trey Calvin is giving opponents fits (averaging 16.3 points in the last six games).

But there’s a reason teams win titles in the NBA with a Big Three but seldom with a Big Two.

“When it doesn’t have to be the same guys every night, where they feel that pressure, that’s what you want,” coach Scott Nagy said of spreading the load.

“Having big guys who can score — and we’ve had them for a while now — it puts a lot of pressure on defenses. Northern Kentucky and other teams are squeezing the floor so tight (with zone defenses), we need guys to jump up and shoot the ball. And Grant is playing at a high level.”

Basile has 981 career points and could become the 36th Raider to reach 1,000 at Green Bay on Wednesday.

Holden passed that milestone earlier this season and is up to 1,252.

Both stalwarts have more than 500 career rebounds, and only 16 players in program history are in the 1,000-point, 500-rebound club.

Basile’s revival has upended the league chase. If the top three teams were in a NASCAR race, they’d be trading paint.

Cleveland State is 12-2, Oakland 9-3 and Wright State 11-4.

Each team has seven games left, and the champion (and seeding for the conference tourney) will be decided by winning percentage.

“We dropped a couple in a row, and that put us in a tough spot. But we’re peaking at the right time,” Basile said.

“Throughout the season, it’s been up and down. We started pretty down, but we got on a roll. And now we have everybody together and playing some good basketball.”

TIME CHANGE: The Raiders’ home game against Northern Kentucky on Super Bowl Sunday has been moved to noon.


Wright State at Green Bay, 8 p.m., ESPN+, 980

About the Author