Loyalty Isn’t Dead: Small-School Stars Stay Put--Watch Stadium
Loudon Love was the Player of the Year in the Horizon League. Javion Hamlet earned POY honors in Conference USA. Loren Cristian Jackson claimed the award in the MAC.
All three could have been grad transfers, being wooed by no shortage of high-major programs, some of which have been compiling a list of mid-major standouts eligible to grad transfer since before the season even began.
Instead, all three players stayed loyal.
They didn’t even peek around to see who was waiting in the wings, who was ready to pounce if they decided to go the route of what is certain to be at least 200 grad transfers from around the country.
In a day and age in which it’s common to bolt for what so many believe might be greener pastures, Love, Hamlet and Jackson turned down the glitz and glamour of high-major hoops to become the exception in today’s college basketball.
“There are no guarantees if I leave and go somewhere else,” Love said. “But I know what I have here, and I don’t see any reason to change.”
When the now 6-foot-8, 255-pound Love arrived on campus, he was overweight at 325 pounds and many figured he’d be better-served to go the football route. He got serious college football looks back in high school, but his passion was on the hardwood, and Love wound up following Scott Nagy to Wright State after initially committing to Nagy’s former school, South Dakota State.
Love was still recovering from a torn ACL his senior year of high school and agreed with Nagy that it was best for him to sit out his freshman season to get into shape. After dropping some weight, Love has been one of the best players over the past three seasons for Nagy in the Horizon and was considered the best player in the league this season after averaging 15.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.
But he never really gave heading somewhere else for his final college season any thought until an elderly woman implored him not to leave Wright State at an autograph session prior to the season.
“Loyalty is a big thing and has always been a big character trait for me,” Love said. “A lot of schools told me to play football, but Coach Nagy saw my potential. I trust him and the bond I have with the staff and the players. I’m happy at Wright State and am not going anywhere.”
“He’s one of the best I’ve ever coached,” said Nagy, whose coaching career began nearly 30 years ago as an assistant at Illinois. “Super loyal. I can’t even explain the connection we’ve had, but I honestly wish he was more selfish. He’s just a great teammate, and we were never worried about him leaving as a grad transfer.”
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