Trip to Brazil with AIA team more than basketball for WSU’s Wampler

Wright State junior Bill Wampler was part of an Athletes-In-Action basketball team that won the FISU America Games in July in Sao Paulo, Brazil, beating more seasoned squads from Mexico and South America.

And getting a taste of competition after sitting out last season as a transfer player was a treat for the former Drake star, though he needed some time to adapt.

»ARCHDEACON: ‘Billy Buckets’ eager to make name for himself at Wright State

“The first four minutes I was out there, I was like, ‘Wow, this is a real game. I don’t remember what it feels like to be on the court.’ After that, it was just like riding a bike, and I started figuring it out,” he said.

But the highlight of the week-long trip for the 6-foot-6 guard, who will be eligible for the Raiders this season, were the outside activities and getting to share the experience with fellow Christian college players.

“We’re only seen as athletes a lot of time, and we’re a lot more than that,” he said. “That’s something we all struggle with, and being able to understand what someone else was going through helped us open up to each other.”

In keeping with AIA tradition, the players shared their faith with opponents and tried to make a difference while they were there.

“It was a more-than-basketball trip for a lot of us,” he said. “We visited a juvenile detention center and were able to interact with kids who don’t get many visitors — I think the last visitor there was six to nine months ago — and we just played basketball with them. Even though there was a language barrier, we were able to make them smile and feel like kids for probably the first time in a while.”

Wampler is on pace to hoist 150,000 three-pointers this summer — not because he’s part of a fundraising shoot-a-thon or is going for a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records, but out of his desire to get better. He’s shooting 1,200 to 1,500 per day, and he said he was up to 115,000 as of last week, while making roughly 86,000.

He was the second-leading scorer at Drake at 9.6 points per game in 2016-17 while making a team-best 60 treys and shooting 34.3 percent from beyond the arc.

“He’s done a great job in his year of having to sit out, like getting his body more physically ready to go. He’s dropped fat. He’s gotten stronger. He’s a better athlete. And he’s a better shooter,” Wright State coach Scott Nagy sad.

“He’s really put in the time this summer and has worked hard. He’s going to be a big part of our team this year.”

Wampler said he let himself go a bit after deciding to transfer. He still had a few months left before the end of the school year and wasn’t able to work out in the gym.

“I was just bumming around and not doing much. I got fat. I came here at 220 pounds with a body fat of 15 percent — way too high for a guy who wants to be a guard,” he said.

“I lost a lot of weight, but I’m back up to 220 now with a 9.6-percent body fat. It’s a huge improvement. I’m quicker, I’m faster, I can jump higher. I feel like I’m back in high school with how I’m moving.”

As for the high expectations on him this season, he said: “I like when the pressure’s on you. But it’s going to be easier for me because we have a great group of guys. Everyone can score and everybody plays well together.”

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