Wright State basketball: Big night against home state power unforgettable for Welage

FAIRBORN — Andrew Welage always wondered what it’d be like to play at Indiana’s famed Assembly Hall and hit shot after shot to wow a sellout crowd — and he finally was able to do it.

The way he pictured it, though, he was piling up points for the Hoosiers, not Wright State. But that didn’t make it any less thrilling.

The 6-foot-6 senior wing from Greensburg, Ind. — about 60 miles east of Bloomington — scored a game-high 25 points in the Raiders’ 89-80 loss, putting on a shooting exhibition by going 7 of 10 on 3′s.

“It was kind of like a dream come true playing there. The crowd and the arena were cool. It was awesome,” he said.

The Raiders were playing without injured star Trey Calvin and needed the scoring punch Welage provided.

“The first one felt good, and then the second one (went in). I got two quick ones in a row, and it started clicking after that,” he said.

His parents, Tom and Jeni, are both Indiana grads. And he had large contingent of supporters ringing the court, including buddies from high school attending IU and family friends.

“I could look around the crowd in pregame and see people. Obviously, all my friends had cheer-section tickets. There were a lot of people from my hometown, and people from Indy we knew,” he said.

“I could hear my friends. Every time I hit a shot, they were cheering.”

Like any hoops-loving person in the state, he’s seen the movie “Hoosiers” five to 10 times.

He rooted for IU and stars like Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, and he celebrated the 2011 win over No. 1 Kentucky on a last-second 3-pointer.

But he wasn’t recruited by Indiana or, surprisingly, any other Division I school in the state.

A Wright State assistant spotted him first, and then coach Scott Nagy became involved.

He’s averaging 7.5 points and leads the Raiders in 3-point shooting at 50% after finishing first on the team last season at 47.7%.

He probably could start for several Horizon League schools, but the only other scholarship offers he had were from Vermont and Nevada.

“In practice, he’s shooting almost 70% from 3. It’s incredible how he’s been shooting the ball,” Nagy said.

“He’s smart. When we recruited him, I thought he might be a point guard. He doesn’t have the speed for it. But he handles it like a point guard, and he’s a tremendous passer.”

Nagy said Welage reminded him of Nate Wolters, a 6-4 guard he coached at South Dakota State who played two years in the NBA and is still playing professionally overseas.

“For us to be able to bring a guy like (Welage) off the bench — with that experience, never gets rattled, always the same emotionally, doesn’t get too high or too low — it’s a huge benefit for us,” he said.

Welage changed his physique in the offseason. He put on 20-25 pounds and weighs almost 210.

Asked how he did it, he shrugged and said: “Just a lot of eating and a lot of lifting in the summer. And I think my metabolism just slowed down.

“But I feel it. I feel it in the post. Physicality wise, it’s helping me a lot.”

Welage made five starts last season but has had to accept a reserve role, playing 15-20 minutes per game.

He’s enjoyed his time so much at Wright State, especially his bond with teammates, that he’s likely going to take his extra year of eligibility granted to all NCAA athletes who competed during the pandemic. His class is the last one that will have that option.

And while he may have been able to carve out a bigger niche at other programs, that doesn’t really enter his mind.

“The stuff we’ve been through — the NCAA tournament, playing in big games, winning big games — you don’t get to do at many other schools,” he said.

“We’ve got a ton of good players here. It’s just finding your role, sticking with it and trying to stand out.”

Welage has stood out quite a few times in his career — including one memorable night against his dream school.


Bethel (Ind.) at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 101.5, 1410

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