McKinley Wright isn’t afraid to make the confession. Until about a month and a half ago, he didn’t really know much about the Colorado men’s basketball program.
Although at one point Wright was on CU coach Tad Boyle’s radar, Wright’s early commitment and eventual signing with the University of Dayton meant some other player yet to be determined would grab the label of the Buffs’ point guard of the future.
Yet a coaching change at Dayton quickly scuttled that future, for both Wright and Boyle’s Buffaloes. Wright, a 6-foot point guard who won Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball award this past year, arrived on campus this past week with just one directive from his new coach — keep honing those winning ways.
“McKinley has to do for our team what he has done for every team he’s played on. Which is lead the team, help make winning plays,” Boyle said. “McKinley is all about winning. Every team that he has played on has won.
“He’s a guy who can affect a game in a lot of different ways. McKinley has so many intangibles that help a team win. What I want him to do…whatever team you’re on, whether you’re playing pickup or whether you’re in a two-on-two workout or three-on-three, whatever the case may be, make sure your team wins. Because that’s what he’s always done. And that’s what I think he’s going to help us do.”
Wright was released from his commitment to Dayton when coach Archie Miller left the program to take the head coach job at Indiana. After leading Champlin Park High School to the Class 4A state title game twice in three seasons, Wright had plenty of suitors to sort through when he re-opened his recruiting. A quick connection with Boyle, in addition to Wright’s own homework, soon steered him toward the Buffaloes.
“I didn’t know too much about Colorado until I took my visit, and I had some home visits with coach Boyle back in Minnesota,” Wright said. “I’m glad to be here. I think this team can be very special. I did my research on coach Boyle and saw he’s a great coach. I came down and the recruiting class we have for 2017 is one of the best in the country. That was big for me. I’ll have a chance to play a lot as a freshman, so that was a big selling point too.”
While Boyle consistently provides the caveat that there always an element of the unknown when attempting to project playing time for freshmen, Wright seemingly will have an opportunity to assert his status as CU’s point guard of the future.
That future could arrive sooner than expected.
Wright, a versatile scorer, averaged 23.1 points and 7.3 assists during his senior season. Despite his smaller stature, Wright also averaged eight rebounds, displaying some of the grit and willingness to compete that Boyle believes will translate well to the Pac-12 Conference. That 6-foot frame might be a liability against bigger Pac-12 guards, but Wright’s rebounding numbers certainly lends credence to his ability to battle physically.
With last year’s primary point guard, Derrick White, preparing for the NBA draft, Dom Collier remains the only returning player with point guard experience on CU’s roster. Collier, a senior in the fall, played the point to mixed reviews during the 2015-16 seasons but mostly played off the ball during an injury-shortened junior season.
“There were a lot of teams that needed point guards that reached out to me, but Colorado was one of the first,” Wright said. “As soon as I reopened, coach Boyle was up in Colorado. Having guys like this together for the next few years is going to be huge. I think we’ll have a chance to make some deep tournament runs, starting with this year.”