FAIRBORN — Trey Calvin once scored 39 points in a game at St. Viator High School near Chicago. And when he competed in a 3-point shooting contest in Illinois, he won the state’s Class 4A title.
Anybody with that background would expect to find at college a coaching staff exhorting him to shoot. But Wright State’s Scott Nagy and his staff weren’t exactly enthralled with the idea of a point guard hoisting shots at will.
“Coach Nagy was on me my freshman year,” Calvin said. “At first, I just wanted to score the ball. That’s all I cared about. And if I missed a shot, I’d get down on myself and let it affect the way I played.
“He’ll still get on me at times about getting over missed shots and getting over not getting the ball too much and playing defense. But now, I just want to be a leader on the team.”
The 6-foot-1 junior has become just that, blossoming into one of the most prominent Raiders without being a prolific scorer.
After a rocky freshman year playing behind Cole Gentry, the quick-handed Calvin emerged as an elite Horizon League defender last season while skillfully running the offense.
He averaged 9.7 points, and though his shooting percentages were average (32% on 3′s and 34.9% overall), he improved his free-throw accuracy from 64.6% as a freshman to 79.5% last season.
He had the sixth-best assist-turnover ratio in the conference at 3.5 to 1.7. But even more impressive is that he’s almost had as many steals (56) as turnovers (60) in his two years, a true measure of his defensive prowess.
“Trey can be a dominating defender,” Nagy said. “When he’s at his best, you can’t ball-screen him. You can’t drive him. He gets his hands on everything
“That’s who we need him to be. That’s what we need him to take pride in.”
Ball screens — where an opponent plants himself in the path of a defender who’s guarding someone else — aren’t easy to navigate. And players can expect a knee to the thigh if they don’t do it right.
Calvin, though, is nimble enough to hardly ever have his progress impeded.
“I tell our team, ‘If everybody could get over ball screens like Trey, we wouldn’t have to practice ball screens,’” Nagy said.
“He’s quick, has good anticipation, has great hands. But he needs to be that way all the time and be way more consistent with it.”
Calvin embraces the challenge of staying attached to his opponent while weaving through an obstacle course.
“It’s just a fight and a mindset that I’m not getting screened or this guy’s not getting past me,” he said. “That’s kind of what I’m basing my passion around right now, my defense.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons on offense. I know I’m not going to be a huge part offensively, so I’ve got to make it up on the defensive side.”
Calvin is enthusiastic this year about spearheading an attack that won’t be so post-oriented.
Future Wright State Hall of Famer Loudon Love has left to play in the NBA’s grooming grounds, the G League, and Nagy will rely on combinations that can spread the floor and excel in transition.
“I feel we have a great team even with Loudon gone. I think our pace is going to be a little faster without Lou,” Calvin said.
“We might use more guards and play smaller ball. We’ll be faster. I’m excited about that for sure.”
The Raiders, who open the season at home Nov. 9 against Lake Erie College, will have plenty of perimeter threats this season.
Grant Basile, a gifted 6-9 forward, led the team in 3-point shooting last season at 47.6% (20 of 42). That would have led the league with more attempts.
Tim Finke, a 6-5 wing, shot 41.3%. And 6-6 star Tanner Holden, who shot a modest 30.2%, is expected to be better this year after dedicating his offseason to long-range shooting.
The Raiders also can bring players off the bench who can provide instant offense.
“Alex Huibregtse has been practicing really well. He’s shooting 50 to 55 percent from 3 right now. And he plays good defense,” Calvin said.
“And Andrew Welage is making a big jump at the guard spot. He’s shooting 40 to 45 percent from 3. Those two will make it into the rotation.”
Calvin also plans to pick his spots. If opponents have to respect him from the arc, his teammates will likely see less congestion in the lane.
“I feel like my shot has definitely progressed. I’m taking better shots, which is making my percentage go higher. I’m definitely feeling good in that area,” he said.
“But I just want to win. Whatever I’ve got to do to win, I’ll do. Defense is one of the strengths of my game, so I’ll just build off that.”