Wright State basketball: Raiders feel like they ‘hit a home run’ with two newest recruits

Fenwick's AJ Braun drives to the basket defended by Badin's Zach Switzer during their basketball game Friday, Jan. 18 at Bishop Fenwick High School in Middletown. Fenwick won 56-45. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Fenwick's AJ Braun drives to the basket defended by Badin's Zach Switzer during their basketball game Friday, Jan. 18 at Bishop Fenwick High School in Middletown. Fenwick won 56-45. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

For Wright State coach Scott Nagy and his assistants, recruiting is a never-ending endeavor. They’re either trying to out-work higher-profile programs or looking for hidden gems.

But the staff is as close to being able to take a breather in that area as they’ll ever be after landing 6-foot-9 A.J. Braun of Fenwick and 5-11 Keaton Norris of Hilliard Bradley in the early-signing period this week.

Quality centers and Division-I-caliber point guards are hard to find, especially for mid-majors. And the Raiders are set at those spots with still one scholarship left for the 2021-22 freshman class.

“It puts us in a position where we don’t have to say, ‘We’ve gotta have this or that.’ We can go find the best player, the best fit, for us,” Nagy said.

Norris had no scholarship offers until playing in the 270 Hoops Challenge, a two-hour recruiting showcase in June for Columbus area seniors-to-be.

College coaches weren’t allowed to attend because of COVID-19, but it was available online, and Nagy knew he found his point guard when it was over. Norris accepted a full ride three weeks later.

“We’ve been watching him. They’ve been to our team camp. But that’s the first time we’d been able to see him after his junior year,” Nagy said. “He made a pretty big jump physically. When that event took place, we saw he’s just a hard, hard worker.”

Norris averaged 11.5 and 4.0 assists for a team that finished 25-2 last season, shooting 40% on 3′s and 84% on foul shots. He’s coached by his father, Brett, and his brother, Braden, made the Horizon League all-freshman team for Oakland in 2018-19 before transferring to Loyola (Ill.).

He told 270 Hoops: “I feel like Wright State is the perfect fit for me, and I really appreciate how they do things. Yes, it was my only offer, but at the end of the day, you can only choose one school. And I didn’t feel like any of the other schools that were interested in me would beat out Wright State.”

Braun averaged 18.2 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.9 blocks as a junior for Fenwick. He can stretch the floor, shooting 41% on 3′s.

“It’s hard to find a good big kid,” Nagy said. "We really like A.J. because he’s physical. He’s made a good jump offensively, inside and out. And his toughness and basketball IQ are very good.

“We feel like we hit a home run with both of them because we got two kids in those positions who are exactly what we’re about.”

Lineup not set yet: The fiercest position battle for the Raiders is at point guard. Trey Calvin, a 6-foot sophomore, played in all 32 games last season and figured to be the heir apparent to Cole Gentry. But he’s being pushed by two freshmen, 6-3 Alex Huibregtse and 6-6 Andrew Welage.

Calvin had an acceptable assist-turnover ratio (32-20), but he shot just 31.3% from the field, 25.4 on 3′s and 63.6 at the foul line.

“Trey is playing with more confidence this year. In terms of how he’s acting and how he sees himself, it’s a lot different,” Nagy said.

Another option is 6-6 junior Jaylon Hall, who led the Raiders in assists last season at 2.9 per game.

“His turnovers are a little too high for me (a team-high 74), so he’d have to cut those down to play that position. But he’s capable of doing it,” Nagy said.

Going big: Nagy, who’s entering his fifth season at Wright State and 26th overall, has been trying to figure out how to put the 6-8 Loudon Love and 6-9 Grant Basile on the floor together.

The Raiders would have to adjust their usual one-in-four-out offense, but the twin towers would be intimidating on defense.

“We could play some zone, which is foreign for me. But being able to keep Grant in the middle and at the rim would make it more difficult for teams to score inside,” Nagy said.

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