Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kansas’ Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, and Kentucky’s slew of freshmen — headlined by Julius Randle — have NBA franchises drooling over them long before they even step on to an NBA court.
But there is another NCAA Division I player who is being slept on by NBA scouts and media outlets nationwide who is arguably having one of the best seasons of anyone in the country: Utah junior point guard Delon Wright.
What Wright is doing at Utah is mindboggling. The 6-foot-5 transfer out of City College of San Francisco is stuffing the stat sheet by averaging 16.4 points (eighth in the Pac-12 conference), 6.8 rebounds (12th in Pac-12), 5.3 assists, (fifth in Pac-12) 2.6 steals (second in Pac-12) and 1.4 blocks a game (eighth in Pac-12). Not to mention he’s shooting 60 percent from the floor, which ranks just outside the top 10 nationally.
Wright is back in the Bay Area for games at Cal on Wednesday and Stanford on Saturday.
“I just wanted to come in and make an impact right away,” Wright said. “The coaches [at Utah] have given me the confidence to just play my game.”
For Wright, being overshadowed is nothing new as he’s the younger brother of Dorell Wright, the former Warriors forward who currently plays for the Portland Trail Blazers.
When he first attended Leuzinger High School in Southern California, Wright was on varsity toward the end of his freshman season, but according to classmates, he was only on the team because of Dorell, who also starred at Leuzinger. However, by the time he left Leuzinger, Delon led the school to the Southern Section Division 1A boys’ basketball championship — the school’s first in 80 years.
Unlike Dorell, who was drafted by the Miami Heat in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft, the younger Wright had to get to this point in his career by traveling unnoticed.
“I try to have the best game possible every time I step on the court, so people do notice my game,” Wright said. “It’s tough sometimes [not getting noticed], but I do like flying under the radar.”
Wright made an impression on CCSF coach Justin Labagh the first minute he practiced for the Rams. When players selected jersey numbers, Wright told Labagh it didn’t matter what number he wore.
He picked up No. 55 — the same number he currently wears at Utah. All he did in that No. 55 at CCSF was win Coast Conference Player of the Year twice. Last season, his second at CCSF, he was the Northern California Player of the Year as he helped lead the Rams to a 33-1 record. Labagh, for one, hasn’t been surprised at Wright’s seamless transition into Division I basketball.
“His game is so unique,” Labagh said. “He’s a product of being able to play with his older brother, and his NBA friends, and what happens is Delon has to do all the dirty work to stay on the court.”
Wright chose Utah over Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Washington and Washington State, knowing he’d have a chance to showcase his all-around game immediately. Having played in the famed summer league called “The Drew” in Los Angeles — where he practiced and played against NBA talent — Wright knows the dream of playing on basketball’s biggest stage is a possibility. Still, the junior gave no hints at a possible early departure from Utah.
“It’s been crazy hearing my name come up on all these draft boards,” Wright said. “If it happens, it happens. Right now, I’m just focused on helping this team win and get in the tournament.”