Utah Utes basketball fans have been hearing about two players predominantly this preseason: Jordan Loveridge and Delon Wright. Loveridge is the type of player that will give a consistently good performance game in and game out. Delon Wright is more of an unknown. Coming out of the City College of San Fransico, I would imagine many Utah fans had not heard of him before this season. If not, at the top of the post is a video of highlights from Delon’s freshman year where he was named Coast Conference Player of the Year.
As a junior college player, Delon Wright averaged 10 ppg, 8 rpg, and 4 steals per game. Oh, and he also lead the team in three categories including assists. Wright appears to have continued this complete basketball game with the Utes. In the exhibition last week, he had 13 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and 8 assists. He was also one of the few Utes who could hit his free throws, shooting 87% from the stripe. He stuffed the stat sheet in the same way at the team scrimmage in October. However, there was one gab in his game last Friday night, finishing at the rim.
Wright had some trouble finishing against St. Martin’s. He missed several easy buckets down low. This brings me to question whether he can handle escalation. Not sure about escalation? Well, Jim Gordon has you covered in the first 30 seconds of the below video.
So, escalation is going to happen in two ways this season. First, hype. The non-conference schedule for the Utes is once again very easy. With new depth and athleticism it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to see the Utes go with only one loss or even be undefeated before the PAC-12 season begins. More wins = higher expectations = increased pressure. If Wright goes through the first part of the season averaging close to a triple-double fans will be expecting close to that for PAC-12 play. The crowds in the Hunstman center will also be much larger than the City College of San Francisco or any attendance up to this point at the University of Utah. How will Wright handle higher expectations?
There is also another escalation that will begin on January 2nd, PAC-12 play. With the starting line-up of last Friday, Wright will be tasked with guarding the best perimeter player of the opposing team. Last year, the player who always did that was Cedric Martin. He was phenomenal at stopping the high quality guards of the PAC-12, but his offensive output was minimal to say the least. In all honesty, this isn’t a fair comparison since Wright is much more talented then Martin. However, the more energy you spend on defense, the less energy you have to play on offense. Will the offensive production drop with increased attention to defense?
Then there is the defenses the opposing teams will throw at Wright. What about the guys guarding Delon Wright? Being the best perimeter player with the ball on the Utes, he is sure to get some attention. It would not be surprising if Wright drew the other teams best defender as well. As competition escalates and improves, Wright will have to do the same. What gear is Wright playing at right now? Does he have another gear or two ready for PAC-12 play?
My prediction: Yes, Wright is going to have a shot at the All PAC-12 team. As a point guard you do not have 8 rebounds and 8 assist in a game unless you have a natural instinct for being where the ball is at and making the play. You cannot teach that natural talent. I expect to see more of the same all season. I just can’t wait to see how Delon raises his game to stay above the competition.