Namon Wright still has the feel of a newcomer with the Colorado men's basketball team. Such has been the vast and thorough nature of the roster turnover since Wright arrived from Missouri two years ago.
Despite playing an active role with the Buffaloes for just one season so far, Wright suddenly has become the elder statesman on a team that will feature a rotation heavy on freshmen and sophomores in 2018-19. With the departure of 2018 seniors George King, Dom Collier, and Tory Miller-Stewart, Wright now has been in Boulder as long as any player on the roster, and barring further unexpected changes he will be CU's only senior during the 2018-19 season.
"It's long overdue. I'm old," Wright said. "I sat out a year, so it's weird. I came into college in Dom's year, so seeing Dom graduate wakes me up a little bit. Josh Perkins and everybody else that was in my class in high school. Karl-Anthony Towns is a third-year guy and going to the playoffs in the NBA, and he was in my class in high school."
Head coach Tad Boyle described Wright's 2017-18 season as a sort of microcosm of how things unfolded for the entire team — flashes of brilliance, certainly, but balanced with a potential muted by inconsistency.
Wright played a key role out of the gate for the Buffs and was one of the stars of CU's championship in November at the Paradise Jam, averaging 16 points while going 19-for-23 at the free throw line in the team's three victories.
The trend that followed, however, set a pattern for Wright's season. Following the stellar showing at the Paradise Jam, Wright went 4-for-17 over the next two games, culminating in a five-point, zero-rebound performance while playing 29 minutes in a loss at Colorado State. That effort sent Wright to the bench after starting the six of the first seven games, and he alternated roles as a starter and reserve the rest of the way.
Likewise, Wright continued to alternate impressive performances (he scored a season-high 20 points on the road against Oregon and nationally-ranked Xavier) with nights when he essentially disappeared from the box score (like a scoreless, 0-for-6 showing in the regular season finale at Utah).
"I think Namon's season was in many ways like the team's season," Boyle said. "There were some flashes of brilliance and some moments that were, 'Yeah, that's why we recruited him.' There were other times where it felt like we needed more. We need more consistency from Namon. I think the inconsistency was there, and that's something as we do go forward as a group that we have to fix and find a solution to. And I think that's exactly what Namon has to do."
Wright finished as CU's third-leading scorer at 9.7 points per game, but he struggled in other departments. He recorded a career-high six steals at Xavier but recorded just nine more in his other 29 games, and after averaging 5.2 rebounds during his final season at Missouri Wright averaged just 3.5 this past season.
As he attempts to evolve as a leader, CU's only senior is focused on ironing out the small details in his game.
"I wouldn't have cared what I scored if we had gone to the tournament, and we didn't accomplish that," Wright said. "I've been looking at the film and looking at my turnovers and my rebounding numbers, and those are the things I've got to improve on. This offseason, I'm trying to really focus in. To help this team I have to be really locked-in with my skill-set. I think I struggled at being honed in on small things. For me, that's the offseason work."