When Loudon Love was injured at a holiday tournament in Florida last week, it was clear the All-Horizon League center wasn’t coming back anytime soon, which meant Grant Basile would have to produce in a major way just weeks into his college career for Wright State to be successful.
But the redshirt freshman from Pewaukee, Wis., didn’t flinch, gulp, shrink back or wish someone else had all that responsibility dropped into his lap. Instead, he’s put up Love-like numbers in his first two games a starter.
He had 17 points and 12 rebounds in a 71-66 win over Miami and 12 and 10 in a 76-74 victory over Western Kentucky.
»PREVIEW: Indiana State at Wright State
“Obviously, it really stinks to lose a really good player and friend. You hate to see it,” Basile said. “But I knew it was an opportunity for me, and I needed to step up for my teammates. That’s kind of the mentality our team has — next man up when something’s going wrong.”
Basile, who’s a solid defender with his long wingspan, held his own against the Hilltoppers’ All-American candidate, Charles Bassey, a 6-11 sophomore who had 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Bassey — who last year became just the second freshman since 1992 to average 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks while shooting 60 percent from the field (NBA superstar Anthony Davis is the other) — is known for his agility. But Basile beat him down the court a couple of times for fastbreak points.
“Obviously, he’s a really talented player. He’s one of the top kids in my class. It was good to compete against him. He’s big and athletic,” Basile said.
“We did a good job of team defense, getting on him when he got the ball in the post.”
Basile is averaging 8.5 points and 5.7 rebounds and is shooting 54.7 percent. And coach Scott Nagy isn’t surprised to see him playing with so much poise.
“He was first-team all-state playing against big schools in Wisconsin,” Nagy said. “He’s played in a lot of big games. I don’t think this is any big deal to him. We’re obviously pleased with the way he’s playing and hope that continues.
“When we get Loudon back, it’ll make us so much better. Not only is (Basile) getting to play, but other guys are getting more playing time because Loudon is out. And it’s going to make our bench way better.”
Elevating Basile means James Manns, a 6-7 third-year sophomore who played sparingly last season, has become the primary post backup. He’s averaged 3.0 points in four games.
“He’s a little undersized in there, but he’ll get more comfortable the more he plays,” Nagy said.
Love is the Raiders’ top rebounder, but the Raiders still beat WKU on the glass, 40-35.
It was a group effort. Jaylon Hall snagged seven and Tanner Holden and Skyelar Potter six each.
“Everyone is increasing what they need to do. We’re starting to go a little more outside (shooting from the perimeter). Bill Wampler is still slashing and finishing inside. We’re just playing really good team basketball,” Basile said.
“But we’re still working it out on the fly. It’s not what the final product will look like. We’re still adjusting.”
Love’s right-elbow injury won’t require surgery, but Nagy didn’t want to reveal many specifics, citing privacy issues.
The burly junior will be out four to six weeks, though. And he’s trying to do what he can while being sidelined, having become a mentor to Basile.
“Loudon has been unbelievable. He’s going through something, but he’s still helping me,” Basile said.
“He just watches the game and tells me something he sees. He always reminds me, ‘Just play hard and don’t worry about anything else.’”
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.