Busting Brackets

Colorado Basketball: McKinley Wright is a future star for the Buffaloes

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 07: McKinley Wright IV
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 07: McKinley Wright IV /

Colorado won’t be going to the NCAA Tournament this season. But the Buffaloe’s future does look bright, thanks to a talented freshman.

Thursday night felt like more of the same for Colorado basketball with another quarterfinal exit from the Pac-12 tournament. This time, it was at the hands of the 1-seed Arizona Wildcats. In addition to the back-to-back second-round exits, the Buffaloes finished an underwhelming 8-10 in conference play and will be missing the NCAA tournament – in consecutive years.

After coming over from Northern Colorado in 2010, Tad Boyle’s first six years in Boulder yielded four trips to the NCAA Tournament, including a trip to the Round of 32 in 2012. That team featured future NBA players Spencer Dinwiddie and Andre Roberson. But in the last two years, Boyle’s teams have stalled, leaving Colorado basketball fans to wonder what’s next. They might just have to be patient.

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Boyle has many great qualities that you would want in a coach, but by far his best is to recruit and develop guys who have flown under the radar. The biggest names to come from his tenure Dinwiddie, Roberson & Alec Burks were all underrated three-star recruits. The next in line in that group? McKinley Wright IV.

A Colorado Basketball Star in the Making

Believe it or not, Wright wasn’t even supposed to be in Boulder this year. He was originally dead set on going to Dayton, but as soon as Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was left on an island. With a giant hole looming at their point guard position, Boyle & Co. raced to sign Wright and he soon committed. A match made in heaven.

The Robbinsville, MN native didn’t disappoint either as he led the Buffaloes in minutes (32.6), points (14.7), assists (5.5) and steals (1.0) in his first year. His flashes of talent were highlighted in his 30-point, 11-assist game in December against South Dakota State and as recently as Wednesday, when he put up 20 and 11 in an opening-round win over Arizona State.

Film Breakdown

Speaking of that win on Wednesday, see for yourself what makes Wright a special talent, like his ability to step into threes off the dribble:

Or his vision and passing skills – no freshman should be able to do this:

Kid’s got wheels in the open court, not to mention the body control at the rim:

Lastly, he’s not afraid to mix it up:

OK, fine. I guess that last one wasn’t “talent”, but it featured a funny chain of events. With Wright yelling “Go Home” after an ill-advised shove by ASU and Boyle injuring his leg trying to break up the skirmish.

The Next Step

In sticking to the narrative of being next in line of underrated Colorado basketball stars, Wright will work on his game this summer under Boyle’s tutelage and come on strong in 2018-19. Why? Because he wouldn’t be the first to make “the jump” from their freshman to sophomore years:

Burks: ’09-10 – 17.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists | ’10-11 – 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists

Dinwiddie: ’11-12 – 10.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists | ’12-13 – 15.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists

Roberson: ’10-11 – 6.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists | ’11-12 – 11.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists

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As you can see, they all improved from year one to year two – which we can all assume will happen for Wright too. Numbers are great, but winning matters more. All of those guys reached the NCAA Tournament and two of them even won a game. For all the talent Wright has, can Boyle surround the right guys around him to get back there? Stay tuned, Colorado basketball fans.