By its very nature, Senior Day inevitably is a bittersweet exercise.
For Namon Wright on Saturday, it might be a little more so.
It hasn’t exactly been a memorable season for the lone senior on the Colorado men’s basketball team. Wright will be honored before Saturday’s regular-season finale against USC (3 p.m., Pac-12 Network), but once again he will only be a spectator in the wake of a season-ending foot injury that required surgery.
Wright played in the first 13 games of the season before missing three consecutive games in early January. He returned to play just five minutes in a loss at Utah on Jan. 20 and hasn’t played since, eventually undergoing surgery.
“Namon was a big, athletic, tall wing. And really we only have one of those in our program now, and that’s D’Shawn Schwartz,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Our depth took a hit when Namon got hurt. I feel really bad for him as a senior that he went through that. It’s not the senior year he wanted. It’s not the senior year we wanted for him.
“But that’s part of life. You’ve got to look at the bright side. And the bright side is he’s going to be healthy, he’s on the road to recovery, and he’s going to leave here with his degree. Which is the reason these guys should be coming to college in the first place.”
A transfer from Missouri, Wright scored a CU career-best 25 points in the season opener against Drake but otherwise struggled to get on track this season, shooting .453 and averaging 7.0 points in 14 games. Wright said the injury was similar to the issue that forced him into the operating room two years ago and kept him out of practice for the bulk of his transfer season of 2016-17.
Wright said he knew his foot was injured again when the Buffs began preseason workouts last fall. He attempted to play through it as long as he could. But with Wright still harboring hopes of a pro career somewhere abroad, the increasing pain made the decision for surgery a little more prudent.
“I’m just enjoying them playing well,” Wright said. “And yeah, it’s tough, but it’s not about me. It’s about the team. I’m just happy we’re playing well leading into Pac-12 tournament play.
“I knew I was hurt. Basically I got hurt before school started in the summertime. So I knew I was hurt. I could either get the surgery then or try to play through it, which is what I decided to do. Basically it’s a volume injury. The more I used it, the more I hurt it. The first game was the only game I didn’t really feel it. That second game I felt it a little bit more. More sore the third game and so on and so forth.”
Despite a nomadic college career and just 44 games in a CU uniform, Wright is grateful to be on track to graduate this spring. Too few young men from his home turf in Los Angeles can say the same thing.
“I’m proud of that. A lot of people where I come from don’t do that,” Wright said. “When I was younger a lot of people around me didn’t really…I couldn’t really look towards people who went to college and graduated. For my family, that’s one of the highest honors you can have where I come from. I’m really proud to almost be done with college and make my family proud.”