By Garrett Aleckson —
“I started when I was about five or six years old. I got introduced by one of my elementary school teachers who had played basketball. He saw me in gym class and introduced me to basketball,” said Ragland.
Many young athletes aspiring to play basketball typically look up to athletes in the National Basketball Association. Ragland, on the other hand, was different.
“I really didn’t watch professional basketball. I watched guys like Ricky Franklin, Korie Lucious, Neil Harris, guys who are playing professional ball overseas right now. I still keep in contact with them. They keep me updated and give me advice.”
Aside from looking up to athletes and getting advice from them, Ragland’s parents also heavily influenced him.
“I was always provided with advice. But, the advice that I always remember that my parents always used to tell me was, ‘In minutes, you could destroy what you’ve built through years.’ I like that quote because you always have to represent yourself and always have good manners. That’s the best advice I got when I was younger. It just stuck with me,” said Ragland.
Basketball wasn’t the only sport that Ragland played. However, each sport he played that wasn’t basketball always conflicted with basketball.
“I played football in high school for a year or two. It really was a conflict, because I had to do a lot of traveling for AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) ball. Then in my first year here at Stout I ran track, but that also got in the way of basketball. So, when the time came to pick a sport, I picked basketball because it’s what I love and have always been around,” said Ragland.
Stout wasn’t Ragland’s first stop after he graduated from high school.
“Fresh out of high school, I went to Dubuque, in Iowa. I played there for a year, and I just didn’t like the environment. So, I was looking around and got introduced to Stout’s basketball coach, Eddie Andrist.”
After getting introduced to Coach Andrist, Ragland decided to visit Stout. He came to not only check out the school but to check out the basketball team. There wasn’t anything that Ragland didn’t like about Stout, saying “I came and visited Stout. I liked the school, the atmosphere and the people. I also liked Eddie’s coaching style. So, I just decided that coming here would be the best for me.”
In his first two seasons, Ragland played in 48 games, and started in 42 of those games. In those seasons, Ragland averaged 10.5 points per game. Heading into his third season, Ragland was expected to continue his effective performance. Unfortunately, Ragland suffered an injury in the second game of the season and missed the rest of the 2013-2014 season.
“I was really upset. Just the simple fact that the other eight seniors on the team were guys I came up with. So, it was a bummer to leave them, but I also learned a lot. I kept watching them and coming to practice, but the situation helped me stay humble and be positive.”
Ragland recovered from his injury in time for this year’s season. Ragland leads the team with his career-high scoring numbers. He is also the leading WIAC scorer. He attributes his individual success to taking on a new role this season.
“The whole thing about averaging 10 points in those seasons was just that the team didn’t really need me to score a lot. So I just accepted my role and was cool with whatever my coach or teammates needed me to do. But this season, being the only senior, my team needed me to lead by example. That was challenging to do at the college level, but my teammates and coaches continued to support me throughout the process.”
Looking back at his career, Ragland is very appreciative for everyone supporting him and appreciates the fans for coming out to watch the team, saying “I just want to give a shout out to all my fans for coming out to watch our games each year. Thanks to my coaches, my teammates and everyone else for their support. Even though this has been a frustrating season, I will always appreciate and remember it. Thanks for everyone’s support.”
You can see Ragland play in his last collegiate game Saturday, Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. in Johnson Fieldhouse.