By any measure, McKinley Wright turned in one of the more memorable freshman seasons in the history of the Colorado men's basketball program.

Wright became the third CU player to land on the Pac-12 Conference's All-Freshman team since the Buffaloes joined the league while also earning honorable mention accolades for the regular all-league team and the all-defensive team.

Wright surpassed the legendary Chauncey Billups for the most assists ever by a CU freshman and, despite his youth, asserted himself as coach Tad Boyle's floor general.

Not surprisingly, Wright remains hungry for more. Much more.

A 17-15 record and the lack of a postseason berth left a sour taste in Wright's mouth, regardless of his assortment of personal accolades. As he goes through summer workouts Wright is expanding his leadership role while prodding his teammates to turn last year's youthful promise into results next season.

"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. "It's been a very productive summer for me as far as me getting better and my team getting better."


Wright finished his rookie season as CU's leading scorer at 14.2 points per game, and his 175 assists broke Billups' previous freshman record of 143 set during the 1995-96 season. There were plenty of highlights along the way, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against Quinnipiac that set the stage for three wins in three days at the Paradise Jam in November, as well as a 30-point, 11-assist effort in an overtime win against South Dakota State.

Still, Wright was a freshman, and naturally not everything fell into place perfectly. Wright improved his turnover numbers as the season progressed, yet his final assist-to-turnover rate of 1.86 was less than ideal for a player who has the ability to be a dynamic play-maker.

Additionally, Wright often struggled with his outside shooting, finishing with a 3-point percentage of .304 (28-for-92). That number dropped to .204 (10-for-49) in Pac-12 play, though Wright rebounded to go 2-for-3 from long range in a stellar 20-point, 11-assist, eight-rebound performance in a win against Arizona State to open the league tournament.

Much of Wright's offseason work has focused on increasing his strength while honing that outside shot. Already a solid 6-foot, 185-pounds last season, Wright said he has added about seven pounds of muscle to that frame. He also has been diligently putting himself through shooting drills, often under the guidance of assistant coach Kim English.

"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."

Pat Rooney: or