Namon Wright expects to play a pivotal role for the Colorado men's basketball team next season.
That part of the plan has remained unchanged since Wright joined the CU program as a transfer from Missouri last summer. However, Wright's transfer season proved to be essentially a wasted year due to foot surgery and a series of minor injuries that dogged him throughout his rehabilitation.
With a return to competitive eligibility finally within sight, perhaps no Buffaloes player has more to prove over the summer months than Wright, whose skill-set and spot within the CU rotation remains somewhat murky after so many months spent mostly on the sideline.
That summer agenda includes a team trip to Europe in August.
"The time he was on the court, he's a guy that can score the ball in a lot of different ways," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "He's got good size. But it was really hard to get a feel. And we probably won't know until the summer when we start practices preparing for Europe.
"It's just an additional question mark. Just like the freshmen coming into our program. Obviously they're talented kids, and we believe in them. Otherwise we would never have recruited them and signed them. The same is true with Namon. You never know how they are going to adjust and adapt."
Wright spent two seasons at Missouri, averaging 8.2 points and 3.8 rebounds over 61 games (45 starts). During his sophomore season of 2015-16, Wright averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds despite experiencing a significant dip in his 3-point and overall field goal percentages.
He arrived at CU with an eye on filling the void recently created by the departure of senior guards Derrick White and Josh Fortune, two players who also transferred into Boulder. Unlike Wright, however, both White and Fortune had the benefit of spending their entire transfer seasons practicing with their new teammates.
During the preseason, Wright suffered a left foot injury that required surgery. He returned to practice in January, and while he didn't experience any setbacks with his foot, Wright nonetheless struggled with assorted lower-body strains during his comeback. Injuries to both heels as well as a strained calf once again conspired to keep Wright off the practice floor.
"From watching I think I learned why teams win and why they lose, what works and what doesn't," Wright said. "Watching our other guards like Derrick and Josh and George (King), seeing where they were successful and where they weren't, I think that's what I learned the most this season. How I'm going to get my shots. How to keep yourself going when you have a bad day."
Wright was finally cleared for a full return to workouts last week. Given that it has been more than a year since his last season ended at Missouri, and he has spent a scant amount of time while healthy practicing with his CU teammates, the 6-foot-5 guard will be looking to make up for a large amount of lost time in the coming months.
"Inconsistency is something we lacked a little bit this year, and it would have been nice to know this past year with Namon sitting out that he was a consistent guy day in and day out. But because of the injury we don't know that," Boyle said. "We know he's talented. We know he's capable. This is going to be a big offseason for him."