We are now entering the sophomore era of former Cedarville standout and coach Kari Hoffman’s reign at Wright State. After being wracked by the transfer portal two years in a row, including this coming season, Hoffman took some time to reload the roster with her own picks. The difference between this season and last, however, is timing: Coach Hoffman did not have a good opportunity in 2021-2022 to recruit players after being hired in late May. This season doesn’t have that caveat; not only did Hoffman recruit well from the portal and freshman class as a result, she’s pulled a pair of her best scorers from her alma mater at D2 Cedarville to finish out their years of eligibility.
Wright State shared the basement with Detroit Mercy and UIC last season, finishing with only three conference wins. With all remnants of the Merriweather era vacated save one, there should not be any issues with internal strife for this season. Coach Hoffman now has nowhere to go but up. Can it be done though?
G Channing Chappell – The only holdover recruit from Katrina Merriweather, Chappell returns to the team to bring a sniper’s touch to the court. After being the only player last season to start every game (thanks COVID) and shooting threes at a 31% clip, the question for Chappell becomes if they’ll be able to keep form this next season. As the play caller last season, she should have no problem reprising the role and leading Hoffman’s offense.
G Emily Chapman – The first of two of the Cedarville transfers, Emily Chapman is an incredibly talented and mobile 5-5 guard that should immediately jumpstart the Raiders’ offense. Chapman averaged 15.6 PPG and 44% from behind the arc in their final year at Cedarville, which should transfer just fine to D1 competition. Returning to Hoffman’s coaching should also have a positive effect on this senior, and it also helps that the number two shooter is coming along as well…
G Isabelle Bolender – The second of the Cedarville’s transfers, Bolender brings some size and rebounding to Hoffman’s roster. After sitting out last year due to injury, the 5-10 guard returns to a new home but familiar territory. Just like with Chapman, this graduate transfer should make the Raiders more competitive in the short term while being around to help the freshmen grow and develop in their game.
G Bryce Nixon – Hoffman found a dynamic player with Bryce Nixon. Previously at Santa Clara, Nixon ranked second in assists and third in steals with 76 and 30 respectively, and should be the key piece to help the defense of the Raiders along.
F Cara Vankempen – Rounding out the roster, Vankempen transfers in from former Horizon rival Valparaiso, adding a mobile forward to Hoffman’s roster. Vankempen can shoot from anywhere on the floor, adding three pointers at a 30% clip last season. With the heavy emphasis on mobile guards, she’ll be the perfect slot to keep a consistent offensive pressure on opposing teams this season.
F Rachel Loobie – One of three forwards on Hoffman’s roster, Loobie comes from Central Michigan and saw a shortened 2021-2022 campaign. Also fitting with Hoffman’s more mobile style, Loobie should slot right in at the 5 spot for the Raiders this season, but question marks remain at the forward position. None of the three have a ton of time on the floor at their other institutions and it’s hard to gauge what kind of impact they will have on the Raiders this season.
G Kacee Baumhower – After transferring from St. Bonaventure in the middle of the freshman season, Baumhower was forced to sit the season out due to transfer rules. With them lifted, Kacee should be an important bench member for the Raiders.
G Taylor Johnson-Matthews – The freshmen recruited for the Raiders present the most interesting reserves for the team. Johnson-Matthews was Second Team All-Ohio out of high school and could be the face of the Raiders down the stretch, but this isn’t the only freshman worth noting. Taylor Johnson-Matthews, Catalina Ion, Macie Taylor, Isabella Cassoni, and Makiya Miller represent the future of Wright State and should have this year to learn from Hoffman and the other seniors on the team.
Wright State is incredibly hard to evaluate. There is only a handful of known commodities on the team, and the rest of the squad is either freshmen or transfers with limited time on the court. The short-term success of the Raiders is dependent on the Cedarville transfers’ ability to move their game to D1 competition, or an immediate development of the freshmen to starter roles. The potential is present, but it feels like the dominoes need to be lined up by Hoffman perfectly. As a result, my personal ballot vote but the Raiders in 9th, but even with that the future is bright nevertheless, and it shouldn’t be too long either way before Wright State is swinging back to the top.
HoriZone Roundtable WBB Prediction