He didn't have a great shooting night, and even head coach Tad Boyle admitted his new point guard, freshman McKinley Wright, can play much better.
Still, Wright delivered an array of nifty passes and attacked the rim with an authority beyond his years in Colorado's season-opening 66-51 win against Northern Colorado, displaying the impressive combination of skills and maturity that should have Buffaloes fans excited over the team's backcourt for years to come.
"He's going to be not a good player at Colorado. He's going to be a great player at Colorado," Boyle said. "I love coaching him. He's got a toughness, he's got a will, he's got a fight, he's got a competitiveness about him that is really special. And he's really smart for a freshman.
"He didn't play particularly well tonight in some respects. But in other respects you can just see he's got the 'it' factor. I've talked about it a lot. Anybody who was at the game tonight kind of figured that out. You're going to see a McKinley Wright who's going to be better and better and better as the year goes on."
Wright shot just 5-for-14 from the field, missing all three of his 3-point attempts and both of his free throws. However, Wright showed no nervousness in how he repeatedly attacked the basket, and he compiled a solid overall stat line with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots, and a steal.
While seniors George King and Tory Miller-Stewart scored eight of CU's 12 points during a game-breaking 12-0 run in the second half, the rookie point guard was integral to that burst as well. Wright delivered an assist to Namon Wright for one of the other two buckets and capped the run with a driving layup.
"My teammate George told me, 'There's no such thing as pressure if you're prepared.' And ever since I stepped on campus these two guys (King and Miller-Stewart) and the rest of the team have been helping me prepare," McKinley Wright said. "Leading me, guiding me in the right direction. There were no nerves. I'm excited to be here and excited to continue to play in front of these fans."
Boyle went on to describe McKinley Wright as "the best freshman no one is talking about nationally right now."
The Wright stuff
The long wait finally ended for Namon Wright, who played his first game at CU since transferring from Missouri. Namon Wright had to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules but ultimately he was unable to practice much all year after suffering a foot injury that required surgery.
Namon Wright started and scored five of his seven points in the first half. He also finished with four rebounds.
"It was a frustrating night because he had three box-out fouls," Boyle said. "But he played through it. Namon is going to be a good scorer for us. He's a guy that can make plays offensively. He's going to be fine. This was his first game kind of knocking the rust off."
McKinley Wright hardly was the only CU rookie to make his debut.
Colorado native D'Shawn Schwartz was one of the first players off the bench for CU. He scored three points with two assists and no turnovers in 13 minutes. Serbian guard Lazar Nikolic also had an impressive debut, knocking down his only shot (a 3-pointer) while also grabbing six rebounds in 15 minutes.
Tyler Bey played only seven minutes but still tallied six points and two rebounds without a turnover. And redshirt freshman Dallas Walton made his debut by playing the final two minutes of the game, collecting the first two rebounds of his career.
Sophomore forward Lucas Siewert matched a career-high six rebounds, a total he reached three times last year...Former CU assistant Jean Prioleau earned a victory Friday night in his debut as the head coach at San Jose State...The Buffs have won nine consecutive games against Northern Colorado.