FAIRBORN — He hasn’t been in the Wright State University men’s basketball lineup yet, but when guard Cole Gentry laces up for the Raiders next week, the offense will be in good hands.
During his freshman campaign at South Dakota State, Gentry was red-shirted. His Jackrabbits team ultimately reached the NCAA tournament that year.
“I got to go against those guys in practice everyday,” Gentry said. “Being around a team that made the NCAA tournament, you understand what it takes to get to that level.”
Following that season, then SDSU coach Scott Nagy took the helm at WSU along with his assistant Brian Cooley, who recruited Gentry.
Midway through his second year, Gentry decided playing for the Raiders would be a good fit with his former coaches on the staff. He also grew up with WSU center Loudon Love, who lived only a few miles away in the Chicago suburbs and was a competitor in high school. The two are now roommates.
“I had a good relationship with him (Cooley) and coach Nagy,” Gentry said. “It was going to be a better basketball opportunity for me here, and I was comfortable with them.”
Gentry admits it was a weird situation joining a new team in the middle of spring semester last year, when he sat out due to NCAA transfer rules. Despite this, he quickly found that he was welcomed by his teammates.
“When it comes down to it, we all love playing basketball, so we share that common interest. We speak the same language that way and can make relationships off the court,” Gentry said. “They helped me get adjusted when I got here. It feels like I’ve been here for a few years now.”
When he steps on the court Saturday, Dec. 16 against host Toledo, one of the motivations for Gentry will be the awareness of who laid the path to where he is now.
“It’s for all of my teammates, the coaches who believed in and allowed me to come here, high school coaches that helped me along the way and my parents. My parents drove me everywhere to play basketball,” Gentry said. “You want to make people proud that they helped you out along the way.”
The Raiders are currently in the middle of the pack among Horizon League teams in field goal shooting at 44.3 percent. Gentry can help remedy this, according to Nagy.
“He gives us good leadership, is our best ball handler and gives people easy shots because of his dribble penetration,” Nagy said. “Cole is a natural point guard. It allows us to move guys to other positions and gives us more depth overall just by adding the guy.”
Gentry explained that Nagy has continued to spur his development as a player with his style of coaching.
“I think he is very straightforward, honest with people and consistent,” Gentry said. “That helps everybody on our team, because we know what we’re going to get from coach Nagy.”
When his career as a basketball player concludes, Gentry says he hopes to use the passion he has for his sport to coach. As for his current role at the point, he is more than ready for his first minutes as a Raider.
“I’m looking forward to the added responsibility and people counting on me to produce,” Gentry said.