- Doug Harris Contributing Writer
Everett Winchester was churning inside when he was thrown into games at the beginning of the season. No matter what he did, the Wright State redshirt freshman couldn’t stop the chatter in his head.
“Those first couple games were pretty hard for me because I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “It’s different being in there rather than sitting and watching the games. But because my teammates and coaches have so much confidence in me, that nervousness went away pretty fast.”
Ten games into his career, Winchester is looking like a budding star and is one of three first-year players making a major impact for the Raiders.
The 6-foot-6, 207-pound backup from Baltimore is second in scoring with a 10.2 average while shooting 50 percent from the field, and he easily leads the team in free-throw attempts, making 40 of 55 (72.7 percent).
He’s versatile, too. He has the frame to post inside and the athleticism to play on the perimeter.
“He gives us a lot of options. Everett at the 4 and 5 (positions) is hard to guard,” said coach Scott Nagy, meaning power forward and center. “They try to back off him and dare him to shoot the ball, and he just puts the ball on the floor right at them, so he kind of gets a head start. It’s hard to stay in front of him because he’s a good ball-handler.”
Redshirt freshman center Louden Love and true freshman wing Jaylon Hall also are not only building blocks for the future, but are taking on key roles this season.
The 6-9, 275-poud Love isn’t a surprise to the Raiders because they saw what he could do in practice last season. But he’s averaging 9.5 points while starting all 10 games and is tied for second in the Horizon League in rebounding at 7.9 per game.
The 6-5, 175-pound Hall sat out the first two games with injuries, but he’s averaging 9.8 points off the bench, and his role keeps expanding.
“He comes in the game and plays with a lot of confidence. He’s attacking,” Nagy said, noting that Hall shot seven free throws in a 63-54 win over Kent State on Saturday and is 17 of 26.
“We’re going to start looking at playing him some at the point because he has a pretty good feel for that. He just gives us a lot of options, particularly if he’s going to play confident like that. The area where he’s really coming on — that people generally don’t see, but we see — is the defense and rebounding end.”
Hall, a Houston product, has drawn the admiration of his teammates over how quickly he’s become acclimated to college basketball. He’s scored 17 and 11 points the last two games.
“You know what to expect from him,” Winchester said. “On the offensive end, he’s going to score. On the defensive end, he’s going to guard.
“Like the rest of the team, he just goes out there and gives 100 percent every single night. It may not be pretty, but we work hard.”