Wright State’s Noel emerging as Horizon League star

Credit: David A. Moodie

Credit: David A. Moodie

FAIRBORN — Brandon Noel may not know it’s coming yet, but coach Scott Nagy is certainly aware of what foes are thinking.

The Wright State redshirt freshman has been able to operate this season in relative anonymity. But his recent rampage has changed all of that and put his name in big, bold letters on opposing scouting reports.

“He wasn’t a big focus, but after his last five games, he has to be,” Nagy said.

“You look at his last five games, and the stats are ridiculous. What he’s putting out is incredible. He’ll be a focus, and how’s he going to handle that?”

The 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward had 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting and 12 rebounds in a win at Green Bay last week, and he followed that with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting with nine rebounds in an overtime victory at Milwaukee.

He’s won two straight Horizon League freshman of the week awards.

“The way we’re looking at it, he’s one of the best PLAYERS in the league, not just freshmen,” Nagy said.

Noel has had four double-doubles in his last five games (missing a fifth by one rebound) and has averaged 20.2 points and 13.6 boards in that span.

His 32-point game was just shy of the program’s freshman record. Sean Hammonds had 33 against Georgia Southern on Dec. 30, 1989.

Grant Benzinger was the last freshman to top 30, pouring in 31 against Oakland on Feb. 18, 2015.

Noel’s 17 rebounds against Detroit Mercy on Jan. 6 were the most for a Raider since Loudon Love had 20 three years ago.

“I’m just trying to be the best rebounder I can be. I think I can help the team doing that, and I’ve made a strong effort to do it,” Noel said.

“The points will come. I’m not going to force it. I’m letting them come naturally.”

Noel has a variety of moves around the basket and can score with either hand.

And having been redshirted twice because of a knee issue — he’s a junior in school — he’s got brute strength to go with that agility.

“Most people are going to guard him with their 4 (power forward). And in our league, most 4′s are wings,” Nagy said.

“There’s not many wings — or centers — who can handle him because he’s so big and strong and athletic.”

Love’s freshman scoring record of 451 points is within range. Noel is averaging 13.9 points, while Love put up 12.9 per game.

TheChillicothe product is also averaging 8.1 rebounds. He was the league’s top freshman scorer and rebounder even before torching Green Bay and Milwaukee.

He’s shooting 63.5% from the field, which is first in the HL and 14th in the nation. The school record is 64.2% by Mike Nahar in 1992-93.

“He’s really stepping up for us,” Nagy said. “It’s fun to watch him grow up and start to believe in himself.”

THURSDAY’S GAME

Purdue Fort Wayne at Wright State, 7 p..m., ESPN+, 980

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