Wright State’s Alan Vest (4) is defended by Cedarville’s Colton Linkous at the Nutter Center on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. Joseph Craven/CONTRIBUTED

Raiders’ Vest making most of opportunity after long wait

Alan Vest didn’t have high hopes for his senior year at Wright State. He had played in only 14 of 35 games as a junior, 20 of 32 as a sophomore and 21 of 35 as a freshman and never scored more than five points. Why would he expect anything different?

But the Raiders found themselves short on seasoned wing players with the loss of sophomore standout Jaylon Hall and have turned to Vest to help fill the void.

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Since he’d never mentally checked out while languishing on the bench, the Chaminade-Julienne product was ready to answer the call.

“I remember going into the season, I thought, ‘I’m going to be happy no matter what. Just control what I can control. Whatever is going to happen is OK. Just do what you can do to help your team.’

“But now my hard work is finally paying off a little bit, and it’s really fun.”

Vest equaled his point total from all of last season by scoring 11 against SMU at the Cancun Challenge. He went 4-for-4 from the field, making all three of his 3-pointers, in the one-point loss.

He missed his only shot against Cedarville on Tuesday but chipped in with two steals and two assists in 15 minutes during the 58-39 win.

Coach Scott Nagy has lamented not having the versatile Hall, who played just one game before undergoing shoulder surgery, but he’s relishing the chance to reward Vest.

“He’s never moped around — ever, ever. He’s always been a great teammate. When people have moved ahead of him, he’s just continued to work,” Nagy said.

“He’s got a great attitude and is a great kid. It’s fun as a coach to be able to play him and see him have some success. We’ve gained confidence in him, and he’s gaining confidence. Everybody should be happy for him, that he’s been able to get some time and be productive.”

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The Vest family has deep Wright State ties. His father, Mark, made the Hall of Fame after a standout career in the 1980s. His brother, Matt, was a two-year starter and made the Horizon League all-defensive team as a senior in 2014.

Even his sister, Sara, had a short stint as the director of basketball operations for the women’s program.

He desperately wanted to live up to the family name and wondered if his time would ever come.

“He wanted to play,” Mark Vest said. “He came out of a competitive league in the GCL. He’s had some issues the last year and a half with a hip — not making excuses. But it hindered him a lot. There were times last year when he’d get in games and jump and land, and you’d see it on his face.

“But in the offseason, he got his hip fixed, and he’s moving better than he has since high school.”

Having to wait four years for the chance to contribute was not only tough on Alan, but his dad, too.

“If it was up to me, I’d want him playing 48 minutes in a 40-minute game and go 9-for-9 from 3,” Mark said with a chuckle. “But as you look at his whole body of work — what he’s done in the classroom, what he’s done for his teammates, what he’s doing now that he’s getting an opportunity on the floor — not everybody can do that. That’s what we’re most proud of.”

Alan has been plotting his future away from basketball. He’s preparing to be a financial planner and has excelled academically, having made the National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court last season.

“I’ve learned a lot from the coaches. I’ve learned a lot from my brothers and my dad. They’ve helped me out a lot,” he said. “I’ve stayed mentally in it, and I just want to keep playing like a senior for my team — staying comfortable, staying calm and patient and being ready to do my job.”

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