Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Time will tell if McKinley Wright’s game evolves enough for him to eventually take a shot at a pro career before his eligibility is complete with the Colorado men’s basketball team.
If Wright stays all four years, however, he will at least have an opportunity to become the first Buffaloes player to become a four-time winner of the Chauncey Billups Award.
On Wednesday coach Tad Boyle’s program held its annual awards banquet for the 2017-18 season, with Wright leading the way as the winner of the Billups MVP Award. The rookie point guard became the first freshman to win the honor since the founding of the award following Boyle’s arrival eight years ago.
Wright paced the Buffs’ offense with 14.2 points per game and 5.5 assists per game, with the latter total ranking third in the Pac-12 Conference. Wright recorded a team-leading 31 steals and ranked third among all Pac-12 freshmen with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.86. Wright was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 honoree and also was named to the league’s All-Freshman team. Wright’s 175 assists was the most ever by a CU freshman and ranked as the second-best single-season total in program history.
Wright also won the team’s Jay Humphries Award as the team leader in assists.
Among the other honors voted on by the team, redshirt freshman Dallas Walton won the Buffaloes’ Most Improved Player Award after averaging 5.7 points and 3.4 rebounds while making 25 starts in his first season on the floor. Freshman Tyler Bey, who ranked second on the team in blocked shots (22) and steals (20), was voted as CU’s Best Defender, while senior walk-on Josh Repine took home the Most Inspirational Player award.
A new award was recognized this season, with senior George King and freshman Evan Battey getting named as co-honorees of the first Tebo Family P.A.S.S. Award. Named in honor of basketball program supporter Stephen Tebo, the award was created to recognize the player or players that “best exemplifies the virtues of Perseverance, Attitude, Selflessness, and Success.”
King completed his CU career ranked among the program’s top-20 all-time leaders in both scoring and rebounding. Battey remained an integral and affable voice in the locker room despite beginning the season by getting ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA and then suffering a stroke-like medical emergency at midseason that kept him on the sideline during the final months of practices.
King, who ranked fifth in the Pac-12 at 7.8 rebounds per game, also won the Stephane Pelle Award as the Buffs’ top rebounder for the second consecutive year.