After missing the middle-half of last season with an ankle injury, Chris Wright
returned for his second year poised to make a big splash in the A-10. The super athletic forward had his ups and downs in conference play, assuming quite a few of the possessions left behind by graduated point guard Brian Roberts
. Though his numbers may not jump off the page, Wrights game has made some strides since last season, and his new role for the Flyers should accelerate his long-term growth. After posting 27 points and 10 rebounds in Daytons NCAA tournament upset of West Virginia, the young forward certainly deserves a reevaluation especially when you consider the transition hes made this season.
Wrights biggest strength lies in his tremendous physical profile which has, and could become even more valuable as he continues to improve his perimeter game. A bit stuck between positions this season after functioning almost exclusively as a power forward last season, Wright would be undersized at the four on the next level, but has ideal size for a wing. In addition to a well-developed frame, Wright is also one of the better athletes in college basketball. Hes quick off his feet, incredibly explosive, and displays a terrific first step that has helped him score from the perimeter despite lacking much in the way of guard-skills.
Those physical assets alone made Wright a productive and efficient player as a freshman, when he shot 60.2% from the field as a role player. This season, Wright has seen his touches increase significantly, and though that increase has hurt his efficiency, much of the difference can be attributed to the fact that he has spent significantly more time out on the perimeter this year. Last season, Wright scored a lot of his points by being active without the ball, crashing the offensive glass, running the floor in transition, and being opportunistic when his teammates created looks for him. While he still gets many of his points in that fashion, his offensive opportunities now consistent of significantly more spot up and one-on-one opportunities. After functioning essentially as a catch-and-finish player last season, he is now beginning to become a more dynamic option on the offensive end.
Though Wright hasnt been as productive as he was against West Virginia on a regular basis this season, his tournament performances are a microcosm of what he excels at at on the offensive end. His first step allows him to get to the basket against most perimeter defenders, and though he desperately needs to work on his ball-handling ability, his knack for getting to the rim allows him to use his frame to get to the line and do some damage slashing inside. Despite his ability to create some looks for himself at the rim, Wright still needs to improve his finishing ability. He won't hesitate to dunk in traffic when he can gather and explode, but he tends to take a lot of short range shots moving away from the rim when defenders deny his penetration, and lacks the footwork to be an effective shooter off the dribble. Though he displays some range and catch-and-shoot ability, his offensive repertoire is still a major work in progress, but hes going to have every opportunity to improve on the job next season.
On the defensive end, Wright gets by on his physical gifts, but could definitely stand to show more discipline and generally improve his fundamentals. Hes quite a shot blocker for a player his size showing the ability to make athletic plays on and off the ball, and is also active in the passing lanes. Despite his physical stature, Wright doesnt always play physical on-ball defense, and should take the time to reach his defensive potential considering how beneficial that could be to him when hes making the transition to the next level.
Just a sophomore, Wright has plenty of time to blossom as a prospect. Head Coach Brian Gregory seems content to let him go through his growing pains on the perimeter, which could pay big dividends to both parties in the long run. While hes still got a lot of improving to do, Wright is a player to keep an eye on next season, when considering the draft may make sense considering his junior status.