“We had to do that to have a successful year,” Basile said. “We’ll have to do that even more this year. We have a lot of guys who can score and pick up the slack for each other.”
After losing only Wampler from among that contingent, the Raiders were named preseason conference favorite, and coach Scott Nagy is plotting ways to make his lineup even more potent.
Love, the preseason league player of the year, will still only come off the floor if he’s in foul trouble or needs a breather, but Basile, who averaged 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds with 29 blocks, has earned an expanded role.
The Wisconsin native was mostly a power forward in high school and could slide to that spot if the Raiders opt for a bigger lineup.
“We’ve got to play those two guys together some in order to get Grant minutes. We saw how well he did when we didn’t have Loudon and there were no other options,” Nagy said.
“If we play those two together, it’s going to be much harder for teams to score around the rim, which is what we want more than anything. We think defensively we can be tighter, be a better rebounding team and a more physical team offensively — just pound the ball to those two and try to beat people up.”
No Raider maximized the prolonged offseason — which included four months at home because of Covid — more than Basile. Working with his AAU and youth coach, Taylor Jannsen, who runs a basketball training outfit called Performance Max, Basile picked up 20 pounds and returned at a solid 240.
“Grant was one of the few guys during that period when we weren’t able to get with our guys to find a way to lift and put on good weight. He’s more physical,” Nagy said. “He’s got to get in a little better shape, but that’s coming. We expect him to make a really good jump for us.”
Since practice began Oct. 14, Basile’s game also has been enhanced by going against the 6-8, 255-pound Love on a regular basis.
“We try to challenge each other every day,” Basile said. “We bring different stuff to the table. He’s obviously a really big, strong kid. He finishes tough inside. He’s definitely helped me bang inside and become more of a physical player. And I try to do the same thing, get him to move around a little bit.”
The long-armed Basile provides more resistance than Love might see on most nights in the league.
Asked whether he’s blocked a shot or two in those matchups, Basile said: “For sure. The toughest part is, though, when you block his shot, he always goes and gets it. He’s one of the best rebounders there is.”
Basile is an appealing option with or without Love. His ability to shoot with either hand makes him a force inside, and a willingness to take 3-pointers means he can stretch opposing defenses.
“I’ve spent a lot of time working on my jumper,” he said. "I didn’t shoot a great percentage last year (3 of 19 on 3′s), but when you only get one off in a game — or not even that — it’s tough to get into a rhythm.
“I feel a lot better shooting it consistently, trusting my shot and believing it’ll go in.”