Guest Columnist: The State of Wright State Basketball

Where do I begin. Scott Nagy’s second team will be impacted with multiple Nagy recruits for the first time. Let’s start by covering who is not back this year. Horizon League first teamer Mark Alstork is playing his graduate transfer year at Illinois. Nuff said, no discussions of what might have been, good luck Mark and time to move on. Also gone is previous grad transfer Mike LaTulip, a Illinois walk on who provided valuable service and shooting to Wright State last year. Steven Davis was a fifth year one year wonder, a non qualifier who missed about 1 3/4th years due to injury and ended up close to a Masters Degree and a spot in the NCAA dunk contest. What could have been if the NCAA had granted a 6th year for injury eligibility, and let’s not talk about what would have happened if the request had come from a Power 5 Conference Team. The NCAA is an impartial arbiter, correct? Last and most troubling, Freshman Ryan Custer was the only true first year player to get playing time last year, and he provided admirable support, working hard on defense and showing unexpected offense at times. Ryan suffered a spinal cord injury in April at a Miami U., Ohio party, and is undergoing rigorous medical rehabilitation. We hope and pray that he will regain as much of his physical ability as possible, this is much more important than his Wright State playing career.

Ok, on to the 17-18 team. Grant Benzinger and Justin Mitchell will be team leaders as seniors. Six foot three inch Grant started as the long gunner who has continued to build his game, he also draws defensive assignments against (much) taller opponents, and scraps and claws. Justin is a 6-4 guard who took over the point last year due to a lack of a true point guard, led the team in rebounding, and is another fighter who has been a big part of Wright State success over the last three years. 6-4 Jr. Mark Hughes has apparently shown tremendous potential in practice and has yet to translate it games, now is the time Mark. Allen Vest, 6-3 Jr. guard is also graded incomplete, he was one of the leading high school scorers in tough Dayton area basketball, son of WSU hall of famer Mark Vest and younger brother of recent Raider starter Matt Vest. Tye Wilburn is a 5-11 walk on guard who played last season and brought high energy when he was in the game. This year the team will add two true point guards, a issue that bothered Coach Nagy all last season. True Freshman 6-1 Tyler Mitchell was a standout in the greater Cincinnati area, led his team to success as a Jr., and watched the team falter in his injury absence as a Sr. Cole Gentry played the first couple months as a Red Shirt Freshman at Coach Nagy’s former South Dakota State, then transferred at the break to Wright State. Gentry will be eligible around 15 December when finals are over and will have 2 1/2 years at Wright State. He was one of the top players in Chicago land as a high school senior.

Again Wright State will be depth challenged at the “Bigs”, the loss of 6-7 Ryan Custer hurts. Non scholarship 6-11 Parker Ernsthausen is a Red Shirt Jr., and has continued to improve over his career, providing valuable defense and surprising offense at times, hopefully he continues to build his game this year. Loudon Love was considered the number two center in Illinois, and expected to play college football Coach Nagy took the Wright State job and convinced him to change his commitment to Wright State from South Dakota State. He is listed at 6-9 300, but watching him in person and on TV I believe he may have dropped 30-40 pounds while working out his red shirt year rehabbing a football knee injury last year. Hopefully Wright State may have the dominant post player they had during the late 90s, early 2000s (NBA first rounder Vitaly Potopenko, Israel Sheinfeld). Wright State’s additional front line support will be provided by several redshirt or incoming freshmen, 6-6 Everett Winchester sat out last season with Louden Love, 6-7 James Manns spent an additional year in prep school in the Columbus area, and 6-5 freshman Jaylon Hall was a district player of the year finalist in the Louisville area, always a hot basketball talent region. All had good high school careers but are inexperienced, and Manns and Hall could be redshirt candidates depending on where they slot in to the Wright State rotation. Billy Wampler, a 6-6 G/F transfer from Drake (freshman starter) will sit out this year then have three years of eligibility remaining.

I believe Wright State is getting closer to where Coach Nagy wants to be, more athletic, but not yet bigger and deeper (think Oakland), even though we did beat them by 21 last year at home. Predictions? Beats the heck out of me. As was a tradition over the Billy Donlon years and with Scott Nagy in his first two years as he tries to remake the roster to his liking, we are looking at 5-6 new players competing for playing time. “The experts” typically pick Wright State near the bottom of the HL (thank you Youngstown State, but wait, new coach, whole new roster, is there another Northern Kentucky emerging). Wright State then plays above expectations and competes for but cannot win the Horizon League. Maybe not this year, but Coach Nagy has a plan, is working to assemble the players, wants to make Wright State a perennial Horizon League Championship contender, and be competitive in games with Power 5 conferences, who knows, maybe the unnamed cross town school (whisper Dayton) will be forced to rekindle the rivalry that they lead 5 games to 3.

That’s My Story and I’m sticking to it. Everything in this post is from minimal information I have gleaned coming out of Wright State and Dayton newspaper sources, message board info and youtube clips, Nothing is coming out of summer workouts, no indication of any late Juco, grad transfer, or other roster additions, it is like injury info, a lower body injury, no timetable, no nothin. Where did all the information go?

Raider Doug

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2 Responses to Guest Columnist: The State of Wright State Basketball

  1. Stanley Titan says:

    I read this article and said to myself that I would rather watch paint dry. Horizon League has sunk to being a low level mid-major conference. Teams that have dominated or tried without success have left the conference to better themselves. The only team remaining are my lowly Titans. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim says:

      It should be a great H-League season Stanley. NKU and OU should be the top dogs. Don’t sleep on Dixson and UIC though. Your Titans are a bit of a wild card. Could be anywhere from 12-22 wins. A few teams are in big time rebuilding mode.


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