While his collegiate career was ended with a 63-57 loss to Duke in the Sweet Sixteen, the recognnition of Delon Wright’s contributions to the Utes–and to college hoops in general–are continuing to pour in.
The Utah guard garnered two big honors honors on Monday, being named to both the AP and National Association of Basketball Coaches All-American teams. Now, we have been singing Wright’s praises all year, and rightfully so. And despite the heartache ending to Utah’s run in this year’s NCAA tournament, you really can’t run short on positive things to say about the scrappy Utes team that Wright helped to mold, and how it will shape the rest of his basketball career.
Yes, part of his prowess comes from his stats — there is no doubting how much he lights up your game notes. In two seasons with the Utes, he registered a career 1022 points, 397 rebounds, 352 assists, 155 steals and 77 blocks. On the past season he averaged 14.5 points, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game as well as being Utah’s second-leading rebounder with 4.9 rpg and third-leading shooter at a 50.9 percent clip. Oh, and he shot 83.6 percent from the charity stripe.
Such team-leading numbers helped make him the only Pac-12 player to make the AP list, putting him in the company of Wisconcin’s Fank Kaminsky and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor.
No wonder he’s Utah’s first All-American since Andrew Bogut in 2005.
But Wright’s big man status also comes from how he became the catalyst in the Utes rejuvenation. With coach Larry Krystkowiak as the captain of that ship, California-grown Wright became the guy brought in to help it sail better.
Even after a deflating loss to the Blue Devils, Wright addressed the media with the poise and candor of a seasoned NBA veteran, pointing to the team’s strengths in the final battle down in Los Angeles. The Salt Lake Tribune nabbed the best sound bite from him following his final collegiate game:
“They always say, ‘You turned around the program,’ but I go back to the team… I’m just a part of the puzzle that I hope turned around the program. I’m happy. I always said that was a reason I came here: Try to turn a program around and leave a stamp.”
Maybe big brother Dorell gave him a couple interview pointers. Or maybe the younger Wright is just that much of a team guy. Either way he has, for sure, left his stamp.
Now technically, with “awards season” kicking into high gear, Wright’s collegiate honors might keep pouring in. He did, after all, make the most recent cut for the Wooden Award, just to name one.
The sky is still clearly the limit.
*Section Photo (above) credit to Ethan Miller, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Tom Smart, Univ. of Utah