Namon Wright is ready to go.
It has been a trying year and a half for Wright, who arrived at Colorado as an intriguing transfer from Missouri but almost immediately was sent to the sideline due to a foot injury.
At long last, Wright's debut with the CU men's basketball team is only about a month away. Like the younger teammates that comprise the bulk of the Buffaloes' roster, CU's four-game trip through Italy in August was a critical step for a player who was forced to spend the bulk of his transfer year in the training room instead of on the court.
"For me, it was really good being out there and getting a couple games under my belt to see what I'm not the best at right now and what I need to work on," Wright said. "I think it was a great experience. You need that experience for guys like me and for freshmen who haven't played college basketball at all."
Wright played in 61 games (45 starts) during his two seasons at Missouri, averaging 8.2 points and 3.8 rebounds. Those totals include a 9.6 scoring average and 5.2 rebounds per game during his sophomore year in 2015-16.
Unfortunately for the 6-foot-5 junior guard, instead of practicing throughout his transfer season with his new teammates, a foot injury and subsequent surgery prevented Wright from mixing it up with the rest of the Buffs. In that sense, Wright is playing catch-up this preseason almost as much as the five freshmen on CU's roster.
"My awareness on defense, and offense too," Wright said when asked what he is focusing on ahead of CU's Nov. 10 opener against Northern Colorado. "Play-making on offense. Just being in the right position at both ends of the floor, and staying alert mostly on defense. Just knowing your spots.
"I think a lot of our teaching moments started when I got hurt. I don't know how many practices I actually went through last year. Right when we started teaching everything last year is when I got hurt. I'd never been hurt before. Staying locked in and focused, that was the biggest thing when I was hurt. It's hard to see everything the way you do on the floor."
Wright was the only player familiar with new assistant coach Kim English, who was hired in early August after Jean Prioleau left of the head coach spot at San Jose State.
When Wright arrived at Missouri, English was only two years removed from his standout career at Missouri. English was playing overseas at that point — just after a stint with the Detroit Pistons and soon before he embarked on his coaching career — but like most decorated alums within basketball programs, English remained a visible presence at Missouri.
"I've known Kim English since I set foot on (Missouri's) campus," Wright said. "He's serious about his alma mater. He played pickup with us. He helped our coaches during the season. Got in our ears, talked to us. It couldn't have been a better replacement (for Prioleau). Pri was my guy that recruited me but Kim's awesome."
That other Wright
That Italy trip also offered the first opportunity for freshman point guard McKinley Wright to run the Buffs' offense. The freshman finished the four exhibition games with a team-leading 25.8 minutes per game, posting 13 assists against 16 turnovers. It is a ratio he is working to reverse as he assimilated into his role as CU's floor general.
"It's nothing specifically I'm focusing on individually. I'm more of a team guy," McKinley Wright said. "I'm very comfortable now. Since I took my visit these guys told me I'd have the ball in my hands a lot. A lot of offense will go through me and I can't play like a freshman. I learned a lot from that trip."