Everett Winchester’s first season playing for Wright State also was his last as the redshirt freshman has requested, and been granted, a release from his scholarship and intends to transfer.
“It was a hard decision because I love the team, I love the coaching staff, I love everything about Wright State and we’ve been through some good things together, going to the NCAA tournament and winning the Horizon League championship,” Winchester said. “But going to the tournament and playing against Tennessee, I realized there was more out there, more that opened my eyes, that I didn’t realize since I committed to Wright State before my senior year (of high school).
“I just realized there were more places that would help be develop in order to reach my ultimate goal, which is to play professionally,” he added. “That was the main reason I decided to transfer.”
Winchester played a key role off the bench last season in helping the Raiders get to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.
The 6-foot-6 guard/forward averaged 8.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in 21.2 minutes. He was the only player able to score consistently in the first half of the 73-47 loss to Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA tournament and finished with 11 points, three rebounds, a steal and an assist.
WSU coach Scott Nagy said Winchester’s decision took him, his assistants and the players by surprise.
“We had an ongoing conversation for about a week, and in that time he decided he would be happier somewhere else,” Nagy said. “If he doesn’t want to be here, it doesn’t make sense to fight that.”
Winchester said several schools have contacted him but he has yet to schedule any visits. He took his last exam Thursday and will head home to Baltimore on May 5, which is when he will start taking a closer look at where he wants to finish his college career.
“All options are open,” he said before clarifying that his only restriction is transferring to another Horizon League school.
“I just want to pick the best fit for me,” Winchester continued. “I don’t have a certain school or certain conference that I want to go to.”
›› ARCHDEACON: Wright State the right choice for Winchester
By transferring, Winchester will have to sit out for the second time in three years, but he said that doesn’t concern him because he felt as though his redshirt year at WSU helped him get stronger and better.
“I feel like as long as I’m in the right place to get better, I’m not going to worry about sitting out again,” he said. “I’m just going to attack that season off and get ready for the year that I’m able to play.”
Winchester is the fourth player to walk away from the program in less than a year. Freshman Tyler Mitchell left before last season started, and senior Justin Mitchell stepped away after 16 games. Tye Wilburn, who played sparingly in 20 games last season and was not n scholarship, also is transferring.
“Happiness is a fleeting thing, and in my opinion, if you’re constantly changing your circumstances in order to be happy, that’s what you’re going to continue to do,” Nagy said. “I always tell the players my goal can’t be their happiness. What I have to be concerned with is doing what’s best for the team above everything else.”
Winchester said informing Nagy of his decision to transfer was one of the hardest things he ever has had to do, but he said he appreciated the way Nagy and his teammates reacted to the decision.
“It was a rough situation because we had a great year, and I was part of a winning team,” Winchester said. “I told coach Nagy I loved him and he told me he loved me and he wishes me the best on wherever I go and if I ever need anything down the line he’s going to be there for me. For him to say that meant a lot. It just shows he’s a man of his word and he cares about me. It was great to hear.
›› PHOTO GALLERY: See pictures from Wright State’s NCAA tournament game vs. Tennessee
“I want people to know it was on good terms,” he added. “There was no bad reason for my decision. All my teammates and my coaches support me and I love Wright State.”
Winchester’s departure leaves WSU with an open scholarship, but Nagy said he has no immediate plans for it.
“It’s not like we’re in a desperate situation,” he said. “We don’t want to use the scholarship just to use it. It’s not a bad strategy just to have one available for a transfer spot. In this day and age, kids just transfer at the drop of a hat for almost no reason. So to be able to have one in your pocket just in case someone would be a good fit is not a bad strategy.”