Raiders have high expectations despite Love’s graduation
Wright State is in an interesting spot. Two-time Horizon League Player of the Year Loudon Love graduates from a team that typically didn’t go deep into its bench, yet the Raiders are expected to continue to contend in 2022. A big part of the reason for that is that when WSU won, it won big. The team won five Horizon League games by 30 points or more, while losing just four Horizon League games all regular season. Losing the Player of the Year is difficult to overcome, but a 20-point win turning into a 5-point win still counts the same in the standings.
Obviously, the Raiders’ cupboard isn’t bare. The team returns Preseason First Team All-Horizon League Grant Basile and Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League pick Tanner Holden. If the official vote went like our HoriZone Roundtable All-League Team voting, Basile and Holden are widely expected to be two of the top six players in the league this year.
CJ Wilbourn – Wilbourn is new to the Raiders, but not the Horizon League. He was a 2019 All-Freshman Team pick at Milwaukee and seemed like he could be poised for a breakout year, but he didn’t make the jump that was expected and transferred to Wright State at the end of his sophomore year. With a more proven coach, don’t be surprised if WIlbourn bounces back in a big way in 2022.
Riley Voss – Voss joins the Raiders as a graduate transfer after sitting out last year at Cornell when the Ivy League cancelled its 2021 season. Voss averaged 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game in 2020. The 6-foot-6 post player started 15 games and contributed to the team as a tough defender.
AJ Braun – Braun is the third newcomer who figures to have a chance for immediate playing opportunities following Love’s graduation. The 6-foot-9 freshman was an All-Ohio Division II pick after averaging 16.6 points per game as a senior at Bishop Fenwick High School. He averaged 18.2 points and 11 rebounds per game as a junior. If Braun can work his way into the rotation early, he would give Scott nagy another big man who can shoot from long range. He hit 41 percent of his 3-pointers as a junior.
Keaton Norris – Norris is the younger brother of former Oakland point guard Braden Norris, now at Loyola after being named to the 2019 Horizon League All-Freshman Team. The younger Norris averaged 17.8 points and 4.0 assists as a senior at Hilliard Bradley on his way to being named a Division I All-State Second Team honoree. If Norris is anywhere near as good as his brother was, he’ll help lessen the blow of Jaylon Hall transferring to Morehead State.
Note: Brandon Noel was covered as a newcomer last season before missing the season with an injury.
Trey Calvin – Calvin took over as the Raiders’ point guard last season and did a very respectable job. The 6-foot tall combo guard averaged 9.7 points and 3.5 assists per game as a sophomore. With the experienced Jaylon Hall out and a true freshman coming in, Calvin might be leaned on even more heavily at the position than he was last season.
Tim Finke – In his first year after transferring from Grand Canyon, Finke was an excellent addition on both ends of the floor. The 6-foot-6 wing averaged 10.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while earning Horizon League All-Defensive Team honors. Although he didn’t make it onto any of our Preseason All-League teams, he did receive votes.
Tanner Holden – A big part of the reason Wright State is expected to contend is that Tanner Holden is still there. There was a stretch of last season where you could’ve argued Holden was playing as well as — if not better than — the eventual Player of the Year Love. With Love out of the way, Holden might find a way to be an even more productive player than he was last year while Wright State remains at the top of the conference. If that happens, there could be a third straight season with a Raider taking home Horizon League Player of the Year.
CJ WIlbourn – With four players who have extensive starting experience at Wright State returning, it seems there’s one spot available in the lineup. Wilbourn would give the Raiders a fifth player with extensive starting experience in the Horizon league. He started 42 games at Milwaukee before transferring to WSU. A year ago Wilbourn looked like a player who had breakout potential, maybe a change of scenery will help him get there this season. James Manns, Voss and Braun could also be in play for this spot.
Grant Basile – An interesting development with both the Horizon League’s Preseason All-League picks and ours was that Grant Basile effectively jumped Tanner Holden. Basile was a Second Team All-League pick last year, while Holden was a First Teamer. It appears everyone is in agreement that by stepping into the role as the team’s go-to big man, Basile will also become its most dominant performer. Like Holden, Basile could end the year as a Player of the Year candidate if it turns out we’re too low on WSU and too high on Detroit Mercy and Milwaukee.
With four returning starters — two of them projected to be among the league’s elite players — it’s not a surprise that Wright State is projected to largely overcome the loss of Loudon Love. When the Raiders won, they generally won by a lot. Even a player as good as Love might not have been the reason for WSU’s Horizon League Regular Season co-Championship last year.
Basile, Holden and the rest of the Raiders’ returnees appear to have the talent to keep Wright State in contention. If we’re underselling any of the newcomers? Another regular season title might be in play.
Miss anything from Preview Week? Check it all out below:
Cleveland State • Wright State • Milwaukee • Detroit Mercy
Northern Kentucky • Oakland • Purdue Fort Wayne • Youngstown State
UIC • Robert Morris • Green Bay • IUPUI
Green Bay (WBB) • Cleveland State (WBB)