He's a lumberjack. And he's OK.
He's got a full, thick beard. He chops down threes.
He's trending on the national scene. He wonders how he got here.
He missed his sophomore year with a foot injury. When he came back, a kid named Doug McDermott had taken his spot.
He's a lumberjack. And he's OK.
He thought about leaving Creighton. He decided to stay.
He fouled the point guard from North Carolina. He received death threats.
He turned off his phone. He went back to the gym.
He came back for a fifth year. He made the first seven 3-pointers he took against fourth-ranked Villanova. He finished with nine.
And then Ethan Wragge's long and strange journey got even stranger.
“After the game the other night, Ethan was out on the court, doing radio with coach (Greg) McDermott,” said Jack Stark, the sports psychologist who works with the team. “And Doug pulled a fast one.
“He told everyone in the locker room to not say a thing when Ethan walked in. He told them to just totally ignore him.
“So Ethan walks in and nothing happens. He kind of looks around and everyone's ignoring him. He says under his breath, 'This is weird.'
“Then after about a minute Doug screamed and everyone jumped on Ethan, hugging him and yelling with him. It was a great moment.
“They were all so happy for him, after what he's been through in his five years here. He's handled everything so well.”
And “The Lumberjack.” Not only the nickname that a national writer pinned on him for his thick beard, but now “Lumberjack Night,” when DePaul plays at Creighton on Feb. 7.
There will be fake beards and flannel shirts and who knows what else, all in honor of the kid from Minnesota, the kid who kept plugging, kept shooting.
All in the name of perseverance, an uncanny 3-point shot and a good face full of hair.
“It kind of blows my mind,” Wragge said. “I had a beard last year. I shot 3s last year. It's not like anything's different.”
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But it's all different. Wragge may be doing what he's always been doing, but he's doing it a little better. More important, he's doing it under brighter lights.
And now he's doing it as a cult hero. Come see the Lumberjack. Watch him run down on the fast break, stop, catch, launch from 30 feet. Watch him shoot from the concession stand.
What's he going to go for tonight? Six in a row? Nine? Maybe 10? Maybe he'll miss.
Doesn't matter. This is a show you can't miss.
After four years behind the spotlight, it's a pretty cool thing.
Who is the Lumberjack? He's been here so long he played for Dana Altman. He got the last scholarship in Altman's last recruiting class and played 34 games on Altman's last Creighton team, the one that went 18-16 and finished fourth in the Missouri Valley.
Soon Altman was off to Oregon and Wragge was wondering how he fit into Greg McDermott's plans. A foot injury didn't help. He developed plantar fasciitis, a painful injury to the tendon in his arch. He tried to play nine games in 2010-11, but that was it.
Good thing. Had Wragge played much more, he wouldn't have been able to qualify for the medical redshirt that would have given him this season.
By the time he was healthy for the 2011-12 season, he looked at the lineup card and saw a name in his place: McDermott.
Over the past two seasons, Wragge became the sixth or seventh man. He never started. He came off the bench to shoot 3s. He absolutely thought about transferring.
“It crossed my mind,” Wragge said. “I'd be lying if I said I didn't. The guy in front of me was pretty good.
“But at the same time, I love Omaha. I like being here. My family sees a lot of games. You have to realize it's your personal happiness, but your personal happiness affects more than just you.
“Plus, my freshman year, we didn't win much. That wasn't fun. We started winning. That was a little more fun.”
Wragge could always drain the 3-ball. But at the end of the 2012 season, he became known for something else.
In the second half of Creighton's 87-73 loss to No. 1 seed North Carolina in an NCAA tourney game at Greensboro, N.C., Wragge found himself in the way of Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall.
Wragge went up to contest Marshall's shot and bumped him with his body. It actually looked more clumsy than intentional. But Marshall landed hard on his wrist and suffered a fracture. He was gone from the rest of the NCAA tournament.
Immediately after the game, Wragge's Twitter feed began to light up like a scoreboard. The ensuing week was not pretty as Carolina fans did everything from badger him to threaten his life.
“It was the power of Facebook and Twitter,” Wragge said. “They were saying, 'You're a dirty player, we know your address, blah, blah, blah.' People were saying they were going to come take care of my wrist. We almost laughed about it.”
That's when the shooter's short memory came in handy.
“I remember him saying, 'This is kind of crazy,' ” Stark said. “And then he just turned off his phone. That was it.”
Wragge the thug, Wragge the basketball bouncer, was nobody anyone knew. Not this lumberjack.
“Ethan is humble, polite, appreciative and caring,” Stark said. “In five years of being around him, I've never heard him complain. Not even once.
“His personality is so laidback. He shows no emotion out there. Not even a fist pump.”
Stark, who works heavily with NASCAR drivers, compares Wragge to six-time NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson. The analogy fits. Wragge has a little daredevil in his game. He's an assassin with a quick trigger. Don't think, pull.
In fact, that's what his dad told him last week. After seeing his son go 2 for 8 from 3-point land in a loss at Providence on Saturday, Brad Wragge — a former quarterback at Midland Lutheran — told Ethan not to think. Just shoot.
The world stopped to watch what happened next on Monday night.
Perhaps the magnitude of what he did dropped jaws, but Wragge has been bigger and bolder this year. Back in the starting lineup for the first time since the Altman days, he has a clear role: play big inside on defense, rebound and then be that guy on offense.
His release is quicker, and he's even more daring with where he lets it fly. Maybe it's a fifth-year senior thing, but his confidence and percentage are at all-time highs. Wragge was a career 43.2 percent 3-point shooter entering this season. Through 19 games, he's at an even 50 percent (74 of 148). And at his current rate of 3.8 3s made and 7.7 attempted per game, he's on a pace to make around 140 of 280 if the Jays play the 36 games they did last year.
He won't be easy to stop. Coach Mike Krzyzewski did it last March in the NCAA tourney, not allowing Wragge to even touch the ball. But Big East coaches have a different challenge: They have to put their center on Wragge, CU's “big man.”
So expect an onslaught of more “Wragge Bombs” the next two months. NBA scouts are now watching. Kyle Korver's records are in danger. And if he misses a few, big deal. Time has taught him to hit the reset button on this human video game.
“You can't dwell on your shots,” Wragge said. “Every shot's a new shot. You can't sit there and think about the past.”
If he had done that, he wouldn't have made it here, to “SportsCenter” and “Lumberjack Night.”
“When I heard about that,” Wragge said, “I thought about telling (Creighton officials) that I shaved last night.”
That would not be OK.
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Video: Creighton-Villanova highlights:
Video: Ethan Wragge discusses Monday's 3-point barrage: