Wright State basketball: First month for Sargent has been jam packed but rewarding

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

FAIRBORN — Almost everything has changed for Clint Sargent in going from lead assistant to head coach at Wright State — from the desk he now occupies, to his daily to-do list, to everyone wanting a piece of his time.

Some things, though, have remained constant. The Raiders have already had a few of their organized offseason workouts, and that’s been a welcomed part of the transition.

“It’s been very busy,” Sargent said of his first month on the job. “Recruiting is really at the forefront of everything. But it was refreshing to see our guys get back to work and see them pour into what typically a spring would be about.

“Getting back into a gym, getting back into a routine — I give our guys a lot of credit for keeping their heads down and staying at it. And that’s given me a lot of comfort and confidence.”

The Raiders lost two players they’d hoped to retain: senior wing Andrew Welage graduated and chose not to take his fifth year of eligibility, and junior center A.J. Braun is still in the transfer portal.

But previous coach Scott Nagy left plenty of talent behind, including a pair of multi-year starters and proven scorers in senior-to-be Alex Huibregtse and junior-to-be Brandon Noel.

He also took just one assistant with him to Southern Illinois — Tae Gibbs. That allowed Sargent to fill his staff not only with coaches he trusts, but friends.

Travis Trice and Dan Beré were elevated to associate head coach, and Nick Goff returned for his ninth year with the program as director of operations.

Former Wright State standout Cole Gentry, who spent the last two years as a grad assistant at Colorado State, has rejoined the Raiders as an assistant.

And Jaaron Simmons, the all-time leading scorer at Alter High School, was hired as an assistant after working the last five years on the support staff at Michigan.

On Trice and Beré, Sargent said: “It was the biggest decision I had, but it was very easy. They have unbelievable life experience that I know I need and coaching experience, too. I just value all of it because I know this job isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle.

“I have so much respect for what they’ve done and how they are as husbands and fathers. Yes, we have to recruit and meet all those needs, but can you have men around you who can love and serve your players the way you would like them to? Those two do it at a very high level.”

Sargent said he was thrilled to keep Goff, who does plenty of valuable work behind the scenes.

And Gentry’s choice of professions is no surprise since he was always known as a coach on the floor. He scored 985 points for the Raiders from 2017-20 and is third in career free-throw shooting at 86.6%

“He’s been through the wars. He was a foundational piece, along with a lot of his teammates, of setting the culture at Wright State,” Sargent said.

Simmons started his career at Houston, then transferred to Ohio University and was an All-MAC selection.

He finished his career as a grad transfer at Michigan, playing sparingly for the 2017-18 team that finished as national runner-up.

His local ties helped in landing the job, and Sargent also was looking for someone outside the Nagy coaching tree.

“I wanted it to be different but someone familiar with Wright State and Ohio. That took me some time. There were a lot of candidates,” Sargent said.

“My first conversation with Jaaron, I knew. He just had incredible wisdom. His character really spoke, and I knew he’d be a great addition for our players.”

The first head coaching job for anyone is a whirlwind at the start, but Sargent is also trying to balance his drive to excel in his new role with being present for his young family (four kids under 10).

He’s probably developed even more appreciation for Nagy, who’s been a head coach for three decades and can make many of the required tasks look easy.

“I have a heightened awareness that my words have never meant more to the people around me,” Sargent said. “That’s all encompassing — to a random person just passing our hallways, to our players, to our staff, to their families, to (the media), to our fans. I feel the responsibility to represent my family well and everyone associated with Wright State.

“That’s something I’m very proud to do. But you feel it. You sense the responsibility.

“I don’t view that as a negative, though. I look at it as an awesome opportunity.”

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