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Most Important Buffaloes: #1 McKinley Wright

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Wright is Colorado’s singular star.

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If there has been one constant in every good Tad Boyle team, it’s that Colorado needs a star point guard to be the center of everything. There was Alec Burks and then Carlon Brown running offenses from the wing, Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker working as complimentary combo guards, and there was Derrick White doing everything he possibly he could. And now there’s McKinley Wright, the latest star guard who enters his third year running the show.

From his first day on campus, Wright announced himself. He was the latest commit in the recruiting class of 2017, arguably the best in CU history, and he only went to the Buffs after Archie Miller left Dayton for Indiana. Wright is known for his toughness, work ethic, leadership and his ability in the clutch. All of that flew under the radar as a recruit, but it showed up immediately in Boulder.

Despite being one of the youngest teams in the nation in 2017-18, Wright powered upsets over then-No. 4 Arizona State and No. 14 Arizona at home. Then in 2018-19, he led the Buffs to 12 wins in their final 15 games, including two wins in the Pac-12 Tournament and two wins in the NIT. During those two seasons, he was named to the All-Freshman Team and First Team All-Pac-12. Now in 2019-20, the baby Buffs are all grown up and Wright is completely healed from the torn labrum he played through last season.

Over the offseason, Wright apparently worked on his pull-up game, which was already good and will make him even more difficult to guard. He’s already lightning quick, so if defenses have to play him closer because of his pull-up, that’s going to make him even more dangerous off the dribble. Evan Battey and Tyler Bey will also be improved, which can be killer considering those are Wright’s primary pick-and-roll partners. That is basically the Buffs offense: Wright running PNRs and driving to the rim, and running in transition off rebounds (Wright is often the one getting the board).

Because Wright can do everything, there is a tendency to lean on him for everything. The Buffs don’t really have a backup point guard, so he may have to play upwards of 35 minutes in tight games. There is a chance, however, that Wright can ease his scoring burden because Battey, Bey and D’Shawn Schwartz are all capable of carrying the offense. That would allow him to pick his spots, focus more on facilitating, and have more energy for defense.

Wright is indispensable, but he’s also indefatigable and tough as nails. Whatever comes his way, he will fight through, because he knows he is the captain of this team. If Colorado is going to meet their lofty expectations, it will be because Wright led them through everything.