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WSU coach: ‘There's a lot of hope, Ryan is a tough young man’

Published: Saturday, April 08, 2017 @ 4:08 PM
Updated: Sunday, April 09, 2017 @ 4:50 PM
By: Breaking News Staff, Ed Richter, Jay Morrison

OXFORD — A promising Wright State University basketball player was reported to be in critical condition over the weekend after diving into a makeshift pool, according to police. 

  • WSU freshman Ryan Custer was at a party held at a off-campus student rental property in the 300 block of North Main Street on Saturday
  • An estimated of 300 to 400 people were at the party 
  • Custer was having trouble feeling his extremities, Oxford police told our news partner WCPO-Ch. 9 in Cincinnati

UPDATE @ 11:45 a.m.

Scott Nagy, Wright State men’s head basketball coach held a press conference this morning to discuss the injury sustained by Ryan Custer this weekend. Nagy said many of Custer’s teammates have traveled to see him and that the number one message is, “We love Ryan.” Nagy also added, “ There's a lot of hope, Ryan is a tough young man. 

RELATED: Police release photo, report on makeshift pool where player was hurt

UPDATE @ 10 a.m. (April 10):Wright State University released a statement following the injury to men’s basketball player Ryan Custer over the weekend

“The Wright State community was shaken this weekend when it learned that student athlete and men's basketball player Ryan Custer sustained a serious injury in an accident off Wright State's campus. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ryan and his family, and we hope that the community and the followers of our program will keep him and his recovery in their thoughts and prayers too.”

UPDATE @ 9:20 a.m. (April 10):

Wright State freshman basketball player Ryan Custer suffered severe trauma with a fracture of the C5 vertebrae and had spinal cord surgery Saturday night, according to a statement on the Facebook page his family created to devote to his recovery.

“We want to thank everyone near and far for their prayers and kind words during such a shocking and unfortunate time,” the statement said. “Truly from the bottom of our hearts it means the world to us and to Ryan.”

The family confirmed Ryan was attending a party at Miami University on Saturday with a group of friends. The statement said it is the family’s understanding that Ryan jumped into a makeshift pool and hit his head on someone’s knee. He was flown to University Hospital in Cincinnati and admitted to neurosurgery ICU.

He was conscious during the flight and when he arrived at the hospital and was speaking to family members. The surgery to fuse the vertebrae and repair the damage went according to plan, they said.

“Our hope is as the spinal cord swelling decreases, he will get more feeling in his extremities,” the statement read. “As of Sunday night, he has feelings to the touch from his shoulders down his arms to his fingers. He can also bend his arms at the elbows and shrug his shoulders. As of right now, however, he has no feeling from his waist down. The doctors hope in time he will continue to get feeling, but there is a long road ahead of him.

“If you know Ryan, you know he is one of the most amazing kids and such a strong man physically and mentally. If anyone can get through this, it is him. We told him of everyone's prayers and he is humbled by the outreach. Please continue to pray and we will keep everyone updated as things improve.”


The 6-foot-7-inch forward was flown to University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he remained in critical condition on Sunday.

Oxford police said one person was cited at the party for underage drinking, according to police.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office dispatched emergency crews about 3:55 p.m. to a student rental in the 300 block of Main Street in Oxford. Air Care was called, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Oxford Fire Chief John Detherage said there was “a very large party with several hundred people” at the rental and that “it was packed.” 

Detherage said that a makeshift pool had been constructed using straw bales and a blue tarp. It had between six and 10 inches of water in it and had a slide contraption. 

Detherage said he was not sure exactly how the injured man ended up face down in the water. Partygoers offered differing versions that ranged from the man falling into the water to sliding into the water. He said one of the bystanders pulled him out of the water. 

University’s response

The university issued a statement Sunday extending wishes for a full recovery.

"While we await details on the cause and extent of the young man's injuries, we at Miami send to him and his family heartfelt concern and wishes for a full recovery,” MU’s statement reads.

Custer’s basketball career

Our news partner in Cincinnati, WCPO-Ch. 9, spoke with Elder High School Basketball Coach Joe Schoenfeld, who coached Custer before his graduation in 2016.

RELATED: WSU freshman Custer bringing a crowd to NKU

Schoenfeld told WCPO he had texted his former standout earlier in the week about participating in an open gym session.

"I still don't know any real 100 percent of the details, but such a sad situation," Schoenfeld told Sunday morning. "I know he had surgery last night I think around 2 in the morning. The doctors can't say too much because every situation is different. I know he had surgery. That's all I know for now. I feel bad for him and his family."

Custer, a freshman forward, averaged 9.8 minutes in 32 games this season. He had a season-high nine points against the University of Illinois at Chicago Feb. 24. 

Custer signed to play basketball at Wright State in November 2015. Custer knew Wright State was the place he wanted to play after initially being offered a scholarship in early August 2015. 

The sharp-shooting forward led Elder to a 22-3 record and a share of the Greater Catholic League South division championship in the 2014-15 season. 

Custer's story at Elder was one of perseverance. He did not make the team as a 5-11 freshman guard. But, he put in a great deal of time that summer and made the junior varsity as a sophomore. 

Schoenfeld said in 2015 Custer spent a lot of time in the gym and in the weight room before he signed with Wright State in November. Schoenfeld said Wright State was such a natural fit that Custer's best basketball days were ahead of him.

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