Game day notes: Comparing CU Buffs all-time guards McKinley Wright IV and Jay Humphries

Stanford has dealt with significant injuries in regular rotation

BOULDER, CO - Jan. 7, 2021: ...
Like Jay Humphries, Buffs point guard McKinley Wright IV is among the top four-year players in program history. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

McKinley Wright IV broke Colorado’s 37-year old career assists record in style on Thursday, entering the win against Cal in a tie with Buffaloes all-time great Jay Humphries before posting a career-best 12 assists in the Buffs’ rout.

Wright also tied Humphries for the most double-digit assist games in team history (8). He moved into the top-10 of CU’s all-time scoring list while posting the 13th double-double of his career.

Wright reached all these milestones in his 112th career game. That’s the same number of games Humphries played at CU, offering a rare opportunity to make a reasonable comparison between two point guards who are on the shortlist in the argument for the best four-year player in CU history.

No doubt, comparing players from different eras is a flawed endeavor. Humphries played without a 3-point line. Wright has played alongside better talent, but also has won more against better competition. Wright has earned three all-defensive honors in the Pac-12 and is on his way to a fourth, but Humphries is the Buffs’ all-time steals leader.

In any case, here is how the two all-time Buffs stack up through their respective 112 games. CU fans can take up the debate.

Scoring average: Humphries 11.7; Wright 14.0.

Total points: Humphries 1,306 (18th all-time); Wright 1,568 (10th all-time).

FG percentage: Humphries .498 (527-for-1,058); Wright .471 (564-for-1,197).

FT percentage: Humphries .696 (252-for-362); Wright .789 (322-for-408).

Assists: Humphries 562 (5.02 per game); Wright 574 (5.13 per game).

Rebounds: Humphries 315 (2.8 per game); Wright 563 (26th all-time, 5.0 per game).

Best single-season assist-to-turnover rate: Humphries 2.05 as a junior in 1982-83; Wright 1.86 as a freshman in 2017-18, though Wright is well above that pace this season with a 2.92 mark going into Saturday’s game against Stanford.

Career assist-to-turnover rate: Humphries 1.97; Wright 1.78.

Steals: Humphries 309 (CU’s all-time leader); Wright 120 (12th all-time).

Accolades: Humphries — Honorable mention All-America in 1983 and 1984; All-Big Eight first team 1984; All-Big Eight second team 1983; Big Eight all-defensive team in 1983 and 1984. Wright — All-Pac-12 first team in 2019 and 2020; All-Pac-12 honorable mention in 2018; Pac-12 all-defensive team honorable mention in 2018 and 2019; Pac-12 all-defensive first team in 2020; Pac-12 all-freshman team in 2018.

Teammate talent: Humphries played at least one season with five teammates who were selected in the NBA draft in an era when the draft was a bloated 10-round affair. None of those teammates were drafted as high as Wright’s two NBA draft teammates, George King (No. 59 in 2018) and Tyler Bey (No. 36 in 2020). It’s fair to wonder if Jabari Walker might be added to Wright’s list one day.

Postseason: Humphries’ teams lost in the first round of the Big Eight Conference tournament in each of his four seasons. Wright’s teams have gone 3-3 in three Pac-12 tournaments, advancing to the semifinals in 2019. CU also reached the NIT quarterfinals that season and would have played in the NCAA Tournament last year had it not been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vs. ranked teams: Humphries’ Buffs teams went 0-10 against ranked foes. Wright’s are 5-7.

Scouting report

Stanford heads into the game Saturday afternoon at the CU Events Center (1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) having dealt with a few significant injuries so far this season.

Senior Daejon Davis returned to the rotation during the Cardinal’s loss at Utah on Thursday after missing the previous five games due to an injury. Davis scored 19 points against the Utes and became the 49th Stanford player to reach the 1,000-point mark in his career. The Cardinal also played its third straight game without defensive ace Bryce Wills, who remains doubtful for Saturday’s game.

“I thought Utah, after watching that game, Utah did a really, really good job obviously containing Stanford’s best players,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Ziaire Williams is as talented as any freshman as there is in the country. So they’ve got a lot of weapons. They’ve got a lot of guys that can hurt you in different ways. I thought Utah did a really good job of taking away Stanford’s strengths, and that’s what you have to do to any team. You take away their strengths and you try to limit the amount of good looks they get offensively.

“Which against Stanford is difficult to do because they really run their offense at a very good pace. They’ve got very good players. They ball-screen and roll very well. They’ve got guys that can shoot from the perimeter. So they’re a tough team to guard.”


Through Friday’s games, the Buffs are ranked 14th at…Stanford ranks third in the Pac-12 in defensive field goal percentage (.389) but only ninth in defensive 3-point percentage (.330). CU is shooting .369 from 3-point range, ranking second in the league.