Bill Wampler scored 16 points in a win over Cleveland State on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, at the Nutter Center. Joseph Craven/CONTRIBUTED

Wright State basketball: Wampler ready to give Raiders outside punch again

But the senior wing wasn’t always sure whether coach Scott Nagy approved of his free-wheeling ways. Though Wampler was good enough to earn second-team All-Horizon League honors, he sometimes found himself peeking over his shoulder at the bench after misses.

A high-volume shooter can’t thrive in that environment. And Nagy has promised to be a lot less, well, naggy this year about Wampler’s shooting — no matter how trigger-happy he gets.

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“Coach told me I have the green light this year,” Wampler said. “He told me I could shoot a lot last year, too, but he said he’s not going to get too mad at me if I take a shot that I think is a good shot. He trusts me to take good ones, and that’s the most important part.”

Asked what that’s done for his mindset, he said, “It frees you up a lot.”

After transferring from Drake and becoming eligible last season, Wampler scored 26 points against Western Carolina in the opener and finished his junior year with a team-high 78 three-pointers while shooting a modest 36.4 percent from the arc.

But the Eau Claire, Wis., product said he’s been hitting about 50 percent of his 3’s in practice. And since first-team all-league center Loudon Love draws so much attention, he’s going to get plenty of clean looks again this year, as will point guard Cole Gentry.

Nagy wants both players to fire at will.

“He and Cole are shooting the ball so well,” Nagy said. “They’re such good shooters, and it puts a lot of pressure on a defense. I know this as a defensive coach: when you have a couple guys who have the green light and are tremendous shooters, it really gets (opponents) spread out, and that opens things up for Loudon.”

Wampler took 397 shots last season, second only to Love’s 420. His 214 three-pointers were 46 more than the next-most attempts. And whenever he had a cold spell, he did what good shooters do: keep shooting.

He had a stretch of 10 straight misses over four games from 3-point land, including an airball on his first trey against rival Northern Kentucky at home in a showdown of conference favorites.

But he sizzled after that, scoring 13 straight points for the Raiders in a two-minute, 21-second flurry and finished with a career-high 29 in the 81-77 victory.

“Guys started to looking for me, especially because they saw the ball go in the basket,” he said. “They saw it in my eyes, and I was hollering for the ball. I wanted to shoot it.”

While hoisting long-distance shots will always be his forte, Wampler has been diligent about improving his all-around game.

“I can put the ball on the floor. I’m playing the 3 (small forward), more of a guard role. And I have the freedom of bringing the ball up more. It’s kind of like it was for me in high school,” he said.

The Raiders finished 21-14 last season and reached the NIT after an NCAA tourney trip in 2017.

They went 6-7 in non-league games and then dropped their league opener to UIC. But Wampler began coming off the bench after that, and the Raiders finished as conference regular-season co-champs.

They hope to carry that momentum into 2019-20.

“I think we learned these practices are so important early in the year,” he said. “We came in a little lax, coming off an NCAA tournament bid, and the season wasn’t as good as it should have been.

“These (preseason) practices have been very intense and really good, and I think we’re in a better spot.”

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