Wampler becomes well-rounded player for Raiders

When Bill Wampler made his debut for Wright State this season, he was expected to be a defense-stretching 3-point specialist who did little else except ignite the offense from outside.

But though he made 87 treys while hitting 37 percent in two seasons at Drake before transferring, the perception of the junior wing turned out to be all wrong.

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Far from a one-dimensional player, Wampler gives opponents fits by being in perpetual motion with or without the ball. He’s still a 3-point threat, but as IUPUI found out in the Horizon League quarterfinals Tuesday, he plays more like former Boston Celtics great John Havlicek than current Golden State sharpshooter Klay Thompson.

“The big key about him is not only can he shoot and pass, but he’s a heckuva cutter,” Jaguars coach Jason Gardner said. “He does a very good job of reading. If you take your eyes off him one second, he’s cutting. That’s something that’s hard to teach.

“It’s almost like passing or shooting or ball-handling — you just have to have a knack for it. He has an unbelievable knack for it, whether the ball is on the wing, the top of the key or the post. He finds himself in a lot of positions to score.”

Wampler tallied a game-high 18 points, going 7 of 9 from the field, in the 71-56 win . He made four 3's and three other buckets in the lane.

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And Gardner’s depiction of him is just what he wants to hear.

“I’ve worked hard at developing my game where I can use the dribble and get to spots where I want to,” Wampler said.

If he starts to become stationary, coach Scott Nagy will remind him to quit being a spectator.

“He really presses me about it. Most of the time when he’s yelling at me, it’s because I’m not moving enough,” he said. “Every time we get movement, we get good offense.”

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His transformation as a player is why he was named to the all-league second team this week, and it actually has made up for some deficiencies at times from long range.

He was shooting 40.6 percent from the field and 31.5 on 3's before detonating for a career-high 29 points in a win over Northern Kentucky on Feb. 15 .

He’s made 34 of 64 field goals and 17 of 36 three-pointers in the last six games, helping the Raiders (20-12) surge to a share of the conference crown. He’s the team’s second-leading scorer with a 14.8 average.

“He had a tough start, but he figured out how to cut and put the ball on the floor and do those other things,” Nagy said. “He got to the free-throw line. Really, he made himself a complete player. We play him out of position defensively (guarding taller opponents), and he does a great job. He fights.”

Even through some cold stretches — including an 0-for-9 game against Milwaukee — he’s still been encouraged to be aggressive on offense.

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“He’s really been shooting well of late,” Nagy said. “The last two days of practice (before IUPUI), I walk in the gym and hear the music playing, and Bill is in there shooting by himself. He just stays after it.

“He’s put the time in, so we’re telling him to shoot it because he’s earned the right to shoot it.”

Tourney tickets: The top-seeded Raiders will play fourth-seeded Green Bay (17-15) at 7 p.m. Monday at Detroit's Little Caesars Arena, while No. 2 Northern Kentucky (24-8) plays No. 3 Oakland (16-16) at 9:30. The finals are 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The Wright State women, also a No. 1 seed, face fourth-seeded IUPUI in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Monday.

Tickets for each day (good for all games) range from $10 for students to $75 for floor-level reserved seats. For info, go to WSURaiders.com or call (937) 775-4934.


Wright State vs. Green Bay, 7 p.m., ESPNU, 106.5

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