Wright State basketball: Basile gives Raiders another potent post player

Wright State forward Grant Basile scores against Miami forward Javin Etzler during a mens basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. E.L. Hubbard/CONTRIBUTED
Wright State forward Grant Basile scores against Miami forward Javin Etzler during a mens basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. E.L. Hubbard/CONTRIBUTED

Sophomore is team’s second-leading scorer

For Wright State coach Scott Nagy, watching sophomore center Grant Basile play can be both exhilarating and exasperating.

The 6-foot-9 back-up center has such a complete game that he’d likely start for any other Horizon League team. He’s second on the Raiders in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (6.6).

But what Nagy sees is a player who hasn’t come close to reaching his potential, and the coach tends to focus on how much more he COULD be doing.

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“He’s one of those guys, at the end of the game, you look at the stat sheet, and I’m always amazed at his production,” Nagy said. “Part of it is, he’s so talented, I always want more for him, and I feel like he hasn’t done enough. And then I look at the stat sheet and go, ‘Holy cow. He played pretty good.’”

Though he’s parked behind star center Loudon Love, Nagy has begun playing the two together, and they’re a potent combo.

Basile had 18 points and six rebounds in a blowout win at Detroit on Saturday and followed that with a 21-point, eight-board effort in an easy victory over the Titans on Sunday.

Love, the preseason league player of the year, had 40 points and 22 rebounds in the two games.

“We liken (Basile) to a player we had at South Dakota State, Mike Daum, who was unbelievable,” Nagy said.

Daum was the 10th player in NCAA history to reach 3,000 career points.

“I used to get mad at Mike all the time. And I’d look at the stat sheet and think, man, I cannot believe the production,” Nagy said “Grant is a little bit the same way. It’s been a fun thing for us to play Loudon and him together.”

The Raiders are certainly having a good time this season. They’ve won four straight games, and they’re shooting 51% from the field, which is 25th nationally (one spot behind Dayton).

Shooting 50% for a season would be rare territory for the Raiders, or any other college team. Wright State hasn’t done it in 29 years.

Basile is quick to point out how defense has to be the priority, but he added: “We have a pretty balanced attack where I think we’re tough to stop. That’s definitely an advantage we have.”

The Raiders shot 45.6% last season, which was their best clip since hitting 46.5% in 2004-05.

The school record is 55.3% in 1985-86. The program record in the D-I era (since 1987) is 51.6% in 1992-93.

All-time leading scorer Bill Edwards was part of that Ralph Underhill-coached ’93 team, averaging 25.2 points (with four other players averaging in double figures) and leading the Raiders to their first NCAA tourney appearance.

Making half of their shots over a season would be harder for the Raiders to pull off these days because the competition has improved and defenses have gotten more sophisticated. But they have plenty of skill on offense, and, more importantly, the right culture.

“We’ve just got a lot of good players, and right now, they’re not caring who gets the credit,” Nagy said. “That’s got to be how it stays. You can’t have guys worry about getting shots — because that can start to creep in. Guys start having success, and they get some credit for it and some ink for it, and you start desiring that instead of the team doing well.”

The Raiders had to replace two of their top four scorers from last year in wing Bill Wampler and point guard Cole Gentry, but first-time starters Tim Finke and Trey Calvin are probably better all-around players.

Finke, who is expected back from a concussion for the Green Bay games this weekend, is averaging 8.3 points and 5.5 rebounds, while Calvin is averaging 12.4 points and 3.0 assists while making nearly 40% of his 3′s.

They’re excellent perimeter fits with veterans Jaylon Hall and Tanner Holden.

“The one guy people hadn’t seen as much — and were wondering based on last year’s play — was Trey,” Nagy said. “We knew he’s a very good player, and he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. He feels good about himself.

“Really, what we had last year was Tanner and Jaylon playing a lot, and we’ve gotten more from Trey and Tim, compared to Cole and Bill.”

The Love-Basile duo also gives the Raiders some versatility. Opponents usually don’t have enough size to defend both.

“It’s easier to double one guy. It’s hard to double two guys,” Nagy said. “Both are really good in the post. It’s a nice luxury to have.”

SATURDAY’S GAME

Green Bay at Wright State, 4 p.m., ESPN3, ESPN+, 106.5

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