CORVALLIS, Ore. — There was a reason Namon Wright set his sights on the Pac-12 Conference when he decided to move on from Missouri.

For Wright, there are plenty of familiar faces in the Pac-12 Conference. In fact, one of them was set to line up across from Wright on Friday night in his very first Pac-12 game.

Wright, a native of Los Angeles, was looking forward to a reunion of sorts with Oregon State guard Stephen Thompson Jr., who, like Wright, is a native of Los Angeles. In 2013, when both players were juniors, Wright's Pacific Hills High School defeated Thompson's Bishop Montgomery squad in the state semifinals en route to the state title.

Wright finished that game with 20 points, going 7-for-10 from the floor while adding five rebounds. He aimed for a similar performance Friday night when the pair was reunited in Oregon.

"It's good for me because I know so many of the players," Wright said. "Me and Tra Holder (from Arizona State) played in the same conference in high school. Stevie (Thompson), I beat him for a state championship. Everybody in the Pac-12 has a player or two I've played against. There's a lot of familiar faces for me. Besides winning, that's a good feeling with just the familiarity of the players."

Given CU's youthful rotation, Wright is one player that was expected to provide a stabilizing force for the Buffs, given his 61-game experience during two seasons at Missouri. It has been mixed results so far for Wright going into Pac-12 play.


Wright got off to a strong start scoring-wise despite struggling at times with his shot, balancing those frustrations with an ability to get to the free throw line. During the Buffaloes' three wins at the Paradise Jam in November Wright went 19-for-23 at the free throw line and he also was a bright spot in CU's loss at nationally-ranked Xavier, coming off the bench to score 20 points while becoming the first CU player in four years to record six steals in a game.

However, of more concern to head coach Tad Boyle has been Wright's inconsistent results on the glass. Wright posted a team-leading 5.2 rebounds per game in his final season at Missouri but didn't record his first five-rebound game at CU until the eighth game of the season. He posted two more five-rebound games in the four contests since then heading into the match at Oregon State.

"Namon's deal is, if he defends and rebounds his minutes are going to go up. If he doesn't defend and doesn't rebound, his minutes are going to stay the same or go down," Boyle said. "I'd say the same is true of Dom Collier. Those guys are both capable of making shots. They haven't shown great consistency, but we really haven't had anybody other than McKinley Wright show consistency in terms of production on the offensive end. But defensively is where guys like Namon...and rebounding, he's got to make his presence felt."

One of the surprising early shortcomings for the Buffs has been a .331 3-point percentage that ranked 11th in the league heading into the Pac-12 slate. Wright went 1-for-5 from long range in the nonconference finale against Iowa, but in the previous four games he showed signs of breaking out of his shooting slump by going 6-for-12 on 3-pointers. Maintaining a similar pace would be a huge boost for CU in league play.

"The first five games of the season during practice, it's like I stopped hitting shots consistently," Wright said. "That's what I thought it was as far as not hitting game shots. After the sixth game or so I started hitting shots, hitting open shots. Besides Iowa, I was 40 percent at least for four games. But when you're shooting the ball so bad to start the year off, you have to climb out of that hole. I'm more comfortable than I was with my jumper those first couple games."

Pat Rooney: or