The brightest (and somewhat unexpected) star of Colorado’s 2017-18 season came in the form of a freshman who wasn’t even supposed to be in Boulder.
McKinley Wright was initially committed to Dayton, but when coach Archie Miller left for Indiana, Wright changed course, instead joining Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes, where he flourished. Wright invigorated the Buffaloes, averaging 14.2 points and 5.5 assists per game in his first season at Colorado and cementing himself as Boyle’s on-floor leader. He aims to return as an improved player in 2018-19.
“Becoming a better shooter, obviously. A better leader, less turnovers — all that good stuff I’m working on right now in the summer,” Wright said, per BuffZone.com’s Pat Rooney. “It’s been a very productive summer for me as far as me getting better and my team getting better.”
Despite the hot start, Wright does have room to improve. He shot 30.4 percent from deep, a statistic that fell to 20.4 percent in Pac-12 play and must improve if Colorado hopes to fulfill greater aspirations. An eighth-place finish in the conference didn’t help the 17-15 Buffaloes reach the postseason, a result Wright hopes to change in his second season.
“We’ve been getting a lot of reps in and I’m seeing a lot of makes go in,” Wright said. “It’s been coming along really well. It feels a lot better and it’s looking a lot better. I’ve had a year of experience with these guys, and knowing where everybody likes the ball and what gets them going. Learning from there and making sure my energy stays high. I noticed this year when I had high energy, they all did too.
“I’ll keep that up and obviously do a better job than I did this year, because there were times I slipped and times that I let this team down. I just need to become a better leader.”
Energy is rarely an issue for the seemingly tireless Wright, who averaged 32.6 minutes played per contest (32 total games). Listed as the No. 5 Pac-12 player to watch in 2018-19 by our own Eric Yates, Wright is positioned to become one of the conference’s full-fledged stars this season.
More from Yates on Wright:
Few college basketball fans outside of Colorado were aware of the kind of year McKinley Wright, a freshman from Minnesota, had last season. And why would they? The diminutive point guard ranked No. 229 nationally in the 2017 class and was the fourth(!) highest ranked recruit on his own team. But Wright will become a household name this season after a freshman year that saw him put up 14.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. He ranked third in the conference in assists and 16th in scoring and broke Colorado legend Chauncey Billups’ record for assists in a season by a freshman. Wright plays bigger than his 6-foot, 185-pound frame, and got into the lane to create for himself and his teammates last season. He will be one of the conference’s breakout stars in 2018-19.
Wright returns to a lineup that also welcomes back shooting guard Namon Wright and promising forwards Lucas Siewert and Dallas Walton. Boyle also brought in three 3-star recruits (guards Daylen Kountz and Elijah Parquet, and forward Jakub Dombek) to a program that looks to be on the rise in 2018-19.