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Wishing goodbye to McKinley Wright, Colorado Buffaloes seniors

I want to give everyone a hug.

Colorado v Florida State Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

“I’m sorry.”

Those were the words McKinley Wright said to Tad Boyle at the end of Colorado’s 71-53 loss to Florida State in the NCAA Tournament.

The senior guard was subbed off with a minute remaining in the final game of his college career, visibly torn that he and the Buffaloes fell apart. Always aggressive and confident, McKinley ended the game passing up wide open shots and committing uncharacteristic turnovers, clearly shaken by the pressure and length of a Noles defense that was perfectly designed to stop him and his teammates.

This is a player who stepped foot in Boulder with something to prove, who laid everything on the floor for the Buffs to have a chance, who tore his labrum in his shooting arm and played the entire season before having surgery, who loved CU as much as we loved him. He deserved a better finish to his immaculate career and this is nothing short of heartbreaking.

Before the seniors left the floor, Jeriah Horne hung his head after making a corner three in the dying embers of the game. Like McKinley, Horne was unreal throughout the season, but went cold in Colorado’s final three games of the season. He knew the Buffs needed that shot ten minutes earlier, when they were down just three points and needed a bucket to keep their momentum. He knew that if he had played like he did all season, his team might be in the Sweet Sixteen.

Shoulder to shoulder, Wright and Horne walked off the court for the final time. One played in 131 games, set the all-time assist record, became one of the best guards in Pac-12 history, and will surely have his #25 retired by the basketball program. The other started just nine games for the Buffs, but made his mark as an emotional leader and big-game player, and will leave a lasting legacy as the first graduate transfer in Buffs history.

Four other seniors played their final game: D’Shawn Schwartz, Dallas Walton, Maddox Daniels and Alex Strating. They will each leave their distinctive memory on the CU fan base, from Schwartz’s buzzer-beater heroics to Walton battling injuries and lottery picks to Alex Strating energizing the Buffs in a Pac-12 Tournament win over Oregon State. None of them will exercise a fifth year of eligibility, as of this publishing.

It’s sad to see it end like this, especially on a tragic day in Boulder. We’re going to miss each and every one of these seniors, cherish the joys they brought to us over these four years, and remember as much as we can from their 84 wins and 48 losses.