Namon Wright could be excused if, generation-wise, a few things get lost in translation whenever he converses with his younger teammates on the Colorado men's basketball team.
As the only senior on the Buffaloes roster, and a fifth-year season at that, Wright found himself in a unique position Tuesday morning as the Buffs began official preseason workouts for the 2018-19 season.
He has spent just one year on the floor with the Buffs, and yet Wright is just one of five players who are beginning their third seasons in coach Tad Boyle's program. Among the two juniors in that small circle, Wright is more than three years older than guard Deleon Brown and closer to four years older than junior college transfer Shane Gatling.
Wright turned 24-years old this past summer, making him more than five and a half years older than the youngest player on the team, 18-year old freshman Daylen Kountz. With a handful of his classmates from the 2014 recruiting class already considered veterans in the NBA, Wright is hoping his wisdom and experience will prove to be irreplaceable assets on a CU team that remains youthful yet nonetheless harbors big expectations for the upcoming season.
"I'm trying to lead by example and just help the team any way I can, basically," Wright said. "I've tried to shift my role this year, basically making sure I'm doing the right stuff every time down so people can look at me and say, 'OK, we've got guys who are doing it. Let me make sure I'm doing my job every time.' Just doing anything I can to help the team win, that's what I'm here for."
After spending two seasons at Missouri and one on the sideline in Boulder after transferring, Wright was in a similar situation on a young team last year, though he also had seniors George King, Dom Collier, Josh Repine and, before he suffered a season-ending injury, Tory Miller-Stewart to lean on. While unrelated sophomore point guard McKinley Wright remains the Buffs' floor general, a big year from Namon Wright both on and off the floor would provide a huge boost in CU's quest to return to the NCAA Tournament.
Wright is the Buffs second-leading returning scorer after averaging 9.7 points per game last year.
"I expect Namon, number one, to be vocal. And if he's not vocal, to set a great example for the younger guys," Boyle said. "Before you can lead others, you have to lead yourself. And that's the big thing. That's on the floor, but it also includes off the floor, academically, socially. But on the court, I expect him to be vocal and set a great example for the young guys."
While Wright enjoyed a number of standout performances during his first season as part of the Buffs' rotation, there also were a number of critical Pac-12 contests that might have swung in CU's favor had Wright hit his season averages. For every effort like the 7-for-12, 19-point, 7-rebound performance Wright turned in during the Buffs' upset win at home against Arizona State, there was a stat line like the 0-for-3, scoreless outing while fouling out in a home loss against Washington that balanced Wright's overall ledger.
If the Buffs get more former and less of the latter out of their only senior this season, the team's NCAA tourney hopes will be bolstered significantly.
"I think being in shape is a huge thing for me. The past months I've gotten a lot better conditioning-wise," Wright said. "Even if I have a bad night shooting, I'll always be there for my teammates and have a good defensive game or a good rebounding game or a good team player game. I'm not worried about that. I have good games because I'm a good player, but I have bad games because maybe sometimes I wasn't fully ready like I should be.
"Just staying consistent and staying in shape and staying locked into the game plan, and having that goal of winning every game, is what I'm looking forward to."