Wright State basketball: Nagy thankful for Love, won’t prod him to stay

FAIRBORN — Wright State plays its final two regular-season home games this weekend, which normally would mean a ceremony for the seniors and appreciative applause from the crowd.

But Horizon League teams aren’t permitted to have fans this season. And it’s not entirely clear whether the team’s lone senior is ready to say good-bye.

Loudon Love, a fifth-year senior center, has indicated in comments this season that he’d be moving on. But the NCAA is giving all athletes a free year of eligibility because of Covid-19, meaning he has the option of returning.

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Coach Scott Nagy said he won’t try to exert any influence, as tempting as it may be.

“You let it play out,” he said. “He understands we’d love to have him back, but there are also other (pro) opportunities that may present themselves. It’ll be up to him.”

Love is the school’s all-time leading rebounder with 1,075. And he has 1,694 career points, seven short of passing Vernard Hollins, who played from 2001-04, for the No. 5 spot.

Keion Brooks (1995–99) is next at 1,766, followed by Vaughn Duggins (2006-11) with 1,777, DeShaun Wood (2003-07) with 1,849 and Bill Edwards (1990-93) with 2,303.

“He’s been a Godsend for me and my staff, coming with us when he did and what we’ve been able to do, particularly over the last four years,” Nagy said. “He’s a central part of it and a huge part of it.

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“He’s been great to coach. He’s a great teammate and very unselfish guy. If he doesn’t come back, he’ll be sorely missed for sure.”

Love’s production won’t be the only thing missed.

“He’s the big brother of our team — 100%,” sophomore Tanner Holden said. “He’ll do anything for anybody, no matter what it is. He always looks out for all of us and keeps us in line.

“He’s led us the past few years. He keeps the standard high, and we feed off his energy. To send him out on a good note would make me feel good, and I know it’d make the other players and coaching staff feel good.”

The 6-8, 255-pound Geneva, Ill., native is popular with teammates because he’s sort of a gentle giant — at least most of the time.

“As big as he is, he’s a very non-threatening guy,” Nagy said. “I’ve probably seen him one time in all my years here where he was really threatening to one of our players — and I loved it. I wish he was more threatening.

“But he’s one of those big brothers who will take you under his wing and hang out with you off the floor. He’s been a good friend to everyone.”

New homes: While more than 1,000 Division-I basketball players transferred after the 2019-20 season, the Raiders were one of only seven teams nationally that didn’t lose anyone.

But two players — Malachi Smith and Skyelar Potter — transferred to mid-majors the year before, and both are thriving in their new locales.

Smith, a 6-4 guard, left for Chattanooga after making the Horizon League all-freshman team and is averaging 16.5 points and is second in the Southern Conference in rebounding with a 9.2 average. He had seven double-doubles in his first nine games, including 29 points and 13 boards against Tennessee State.

The Belleville, Ill., native has led the Mocs to a 14-5 record.

Potter, a 6-3 guard, is averaging 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds at Morehead State, which is 15-6 overall and 12-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference, two games behind Belmont.

He was named OVC newcomer of the week for the second time Monday after tallying 20 points and 13 rebounds against Appalachian State. The Bowling Green, Ky., native also won the award for a 22-point night against Clemson.

Both probably could have helped the Raiders some this season, but they don’t seem to be missed because Nagy and his staff keep bringing in top talent.

Format change: The Horizon League announced its revised championship schedule for the spring, limiting the field in some sports because of COVID-19.

The basketball tournaments will start Feb. 25, as previously reported. The Wright State men have already locked up one of the four first-round byes and will have a quarterfinal home game March 2, while the women’s team, which is in first place at 13-3 with four games to go, still has some work to do to earn a bye.

The men’s golf tourney will have a full field and be held April 25-27 at Purdue’s home course instead of its usual site in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. The cross country meet will be hosted by IUPUI on March 4 in Carmel, Ind., with the nine men’s teams and 10 women’s squads all participating.

The others have cut back to four-team events with top seeds hosting: baseball May 28-29, men’s and women’s soccer April 11 and 17, and women’s volleyball March 28 and April 3.

FRIDAY’S GAME

Milwaukee at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPN3, 106.5

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