It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours for Julian Wright. The 6-8 SF from Flossmoor, IL gave a verbal commitment to Kansas on Thursday night and then watched the media buzz begin the following day. College basketball fans, coaches and recruiting analysts were all surprised to learn of Wright’s quick pick of KU after an in-home visit with Kansas head coach Bill Self. Wright doesn’t think the decision should be shocking to fans, but he does admit he was slightly surprised at how convinced he quickly became that Kansas was the place for him after meeting with Self.
“It was a little surprising for me to actually feel that strongly so fast and know that at the same time, I’m not rushing it either,” said Wright.
“All of it happened so fast, yet it wasn’t a feeling of desperation or anything. I just felt so strongly about the visit that I just decided not to wait the three weeks it might have taken to go for a visit and all that. The campus life, I was already sold on it from talking to (Self) and reading up on it myself so I just wanted to go ahead and commit to Coach Self.”
And commit he did, giving the Jayhawks their third verbal commitment for the 2005 class which already includes Mario Chalmers (6-1 PG) and Micah Downs (6-7 SF). Wright picked Kansas over Arizona, DePaul and Illinois.
Two days after committing to Kansas, Wright is still smiling about his pick and shaking his head about some of the surprised reactions to it.
“Some people thought that Arizona was a lock and to them I know it might seem like everything is weird and shocking, but it’s not shocking to me,” Wright admitted. “That’s just the internet and media that thought that way. They didn’t know what was going on with me and between me and the coaches. So, it may have come soon to the media, but I don’t think it’s a big shock for me.”
While the timing of his decision is not a huge shock to Wright, it is a great thrill because now he can rest assured that he’ll get to play for the coach he feels was easily the best fit for him.
“I’ve always been comfortable with Coach Self,” Wright explained. “He’s honest and sincere. He’s loves what he does and he loves the kids. He really takes his job seriously and I know every coach does, but he’s so sincere and his outlooks on things, I really like.”
In addition to Kansas being led by Self, Wright also picked the Jayhawks because of other factors like tradition and fan support.
“I also liked the tradition, pride and me going to Kansas City really helped too.”
Wright visited Shawnee, KS earlier this summer for an AAU event and found out, first hand, how big basketball is in the Kansas City area.
“At the time I was in town there wasn’t a lot of talk of me and Kansas, but a lot of people still came up to me. I saw how the people around there are supportive and dedicated to the school. I could just tell from being at the tournament in the metro K.C. area what kind of support there is.”
Academics and location also played a role for the Insiders’ No. 5 player in America.
“The academics are good. It’s close to home – and that wasn’t a huge factor – but it is close to home. It’s close enough that you can drive in a day or take a short plane trip.
Plus, I just want an environment where I can learn, get some get information and play some good basketball and that’s Kansas.”
Wright also learned through his own research that Lawrence offers a unique on-campus community that’s just a short drive from the big city style of living that Wright enjoys.
“When I think of the University, I think of it as its own little city. It’s not too far from a big city, but at the same it’s its own atmosphere on campus. I’m kind of a city guy being from the Chicago metro area, so this is a good fit.”
So, how long does Wright see himself staying in Lawrence once he officially becomes a Jayhawk?
“I can’t put a set of time on it and can’t put a finger on how long I’ll be in college, but I really am looking forward to it because I think it helps you build character on and off the court. I’m looking forward to the campus life and I know I’ll grow as a person. Plus, I want to learn more on my major, which is communications.”
Wright will likely get an up-close look at the KU campus on the weekend of October 15th when he hopes to visit Allen Fieldhouse for “Late Night in the Phog”.
“I’ll probably come there and make my official that weekend. We’re just in the process of talking about it now. I could tell you more on Monday.”
Jayhawk fans who are hungry for more on Wright can tune in to “Rock Chalk Sports Talk” on ESPN Radio 1320 KLWN in Lawrence on Monday at 5:40 PM when Wright will be making a live appearance. RCST is streamed live every day on Phog.net.