FAIRBORN — Wright State fans may have been blindsided by the transfer of two stars to high-major schools after last season — and they’re not alone.
Coach Scott Nagy never saw it coming, either.
“I was surprised, initially, but I’ve gotten over it,” he said. “I’m not bitter at Grant or Tanner. I understand those things.”
Grant Basile left for Virginia Tech, and the 6-9 forward is the team’s leading scorer with a 16.6 average going into the weekend. He also has the second-most 3′s with 60, shooting nearly 40%.
Tanner Holden, who averaged 20.1 points for the Raiders last season, hasn’t carved out much of a niche with Ohio State. The 6-6 guard is averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds.
Nagy knows his brethren at the mid-major level are experiencing the same woes, seeing standouts leave for NIL paydays and greater exposure.
The transfer portal has contributed to the mass exodus since players no longer have to sit out a year before playing.
“What we have to do is build relationships with our guys and make it hard to leave here,” Nagy said. “I don’t like having to re-recruit our kids. But I also understand things are different than they used to be. I have to make adjustments.”
He finds himself in the same spot this offseason with star Trey Calvin waffling over whether to play his fifth season at Wright State.
He looked like perhaps the best player in the Horizon League most of the season. He averaged 20.3 points and 3.7 assists while shooting a deft 49.2% from the field and 39.5 from 3.
He also was given the moniker “The Closer” by an opposing coach because of his knack for coming through at crunch time.
He beat Louisville with a last-second jumper. And he scored eight of his team’s nine overtime points in a win at Milwaukee.
But his best showing came in a triple-overtime loss at Youngstown State. He scored the last five points in a 19-second span to force OT, and he tallied 20 points after regulation, hitting game-tying shots at the end of the first, second and third extra sessions.
He left six seconds on the clock after the last one, though, and the Penguins had enough time to produce the game-winning basket.
“Trey, the second half of the season, became really locked in,” Nagy said. “He’s been phenomenal and very engaged.
“He and I have probably communicated more lately — not just about his future, but about our team. It’s him giving me his thoughts, which is what I need. It needs to be his team.”
The Calvin saga feels similar to Loudon Love’s decision two years ago. The burly center strongly considered coming back for a fifth season, but, after what seemed like eons, opted to turn pro.
“Trey is proving to be a very loyal guy. We’ll have conversations this next week, and we’ll see,” Nagy said.
The Raiders could return eight of their top nine players if he comes back, which means they’d be HL title contenders.
But no matter how loyal he may feel toward the program, the 6-1 guard can’t be blamed for wanting to maximize his earnings.
Nagy said athletic director Bob Grant has been proactive in addressing that issue, but Power-5 schools figure to have access to a much bigger NIL pot.
“Bob has done a great job, We feel we can be competitive in all of it,” Nagy said. “The main thing for us to be good — and we know, had we kept (Basile and Holden), where we’d be — is to keep our guys.
“You work so hard to build relationships and need for them to stay here. But quite frankly, not just for these guys, but for everybody, money is a big lure.
“I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But particularly when you’re looking at a young man that hasn’t had a lot, that can be a big factor.”
Nagy is also realistic enough to know Calvin isn’t the only player who could be enticed to leave.
Malachi Smith seemed to have found a home at Wright State after making the league all-freshman team in 2018-19.
But he transferred to Chattanooga in the offseason and eventually became the Southern Conference player of the year.
He’s now taking his fifth season at Gonzaga and was named the West Coast Conference sixth man of the year.
“The way the transfer rules work, anyone can say, ‘I want to go someplace else.’ As a staff, we know this,” Nagy said.
“It used to be, after the season, you take a deep breath. Now, it’s not that way. That’s when the work REALLY needs to be done. And we’re ready for it.”
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