Wright IV Named Eighth Best Returning Player By Andy Katz
BOULDER - On the heels of college basketball clearing the first hurdle when the NCAA Division I Council approved moving the start date for a season to Nov. 25, Andy Katz released his Top 20 best returning players in college basketball and Colorado's McKinley Wright IV came in at No. 8.
Ahead of Wright IV were some very good basketball players, but upon closer look, perhaps he should've been ranked even higher. The top seven includes, in order from first to seventh, Iowa's 6-11 forward Luka Garza, Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu, Baylor guard Jared Butler, Arizona State guard Remy Martin, Kansas guard Marcus Garrett, Creighton guard Marcus Zegarowski and Villanova guard Collin Gillespie.
Seven fantastic college basketball players. Six other guards and a big man.
But when looking at some stats for last season and their career, perhaps Wright IV should've come in higher on the list. He leads that entire group in assists per game, both when looking at last season (5.0 per game) and career (5.1 per game) numbers. Taking out Garza, he leads the seven guards in both rebounding (5.7 per game last season, 5.1 per game in his career) and blocks (.3 per game for both last season and career). Among the other guards, he also ranks second in career scoring (13.8 per game) and third in career steals (1.1 per game).
But what's more important than stats? Wins. This is where Wright IV really shines. All eight players were on 20-win teams last season, and when looking at games won in a career, Wright is fourth with 61 wins. But when looking at wins when in the starting lineup, Wright is head and shoulders above the entire list. With 60 wins in career starts, he's got nine more than Gillespie's 51 and only Garza (48) and Garrett (41) are within 20 wins of Wright's career total.
Looking more specifically at the Conference of Champions, the only player ahead of Wright IV is Martin at No. 4. Martin and the Sun Devils have won 63 games in the last three years compared to 61 for the Buffs, but head to head, the Buffs have won five of the seven match-ups over the past three seasons. And looking at wins when in the starting lineup, Wright holds a 60-34 advantage over Martin.
Wright IV is the only player on the list who averaged more than 5.0 rebounds and assists per game last season and is easily the only one who's averaged those numbers for his career. Taking out Garza (again, 6-11 forward) and his 6.9 career rebounds per game, the next best average ahead of Wright's 5.1 career rebounds and assists marks are 4.2 per game, but not by the same player. Dosunmu has averaged 4.2 rebounds per game and Zegarowski has averaged 4.2 assists per game.
Regardless of all the numbers, all Buffs fans, and all college basketball fans, should be excited that Wright IV decided to come back for his senior season, one that will definitely not look like any season before but one that could shape up to be a special journey for the Buffs.