Catching Up With Julian Wright

After a very busy month of December that was highlighted by a victory over then #1 in the country Mouth of Wilson (VA) Oak Hill, Julian Wright is ready for 2005. To celebrate the start of the New Year, the six-foot-eight swingman from Homewood (IL) Flossmoor made a weekend visit to the University of Kansas to watch his future team tackle Georgia Tech.

Needless to say, Wright thoroughly enjoyed watching the Jayhawks score a thrilling overtime victory over the Yellow Jackets in front of a wild Allen Fieldhouse crowd.

"It was a great atmosphere, way different than watching it on TV," Wright said. "When you're at the game you see so much more happening. Usually on TV you follow the ball but when you are right there you notice so many more things."

Of course the crowd left a big impression on him as well.

"Wow, amazing, it didn't matter if they were down 16 or if they would have been up 20 they are just as loud," said Wright of the crowd. "They (Kansas) were down early and I think the crowd really kept them in the game and kept their spirits up. It seems like the fans are right there on the court and there's not much separation between them and the game, I like that."

Despite watching his future teammates fall behind early to a very talented Georgia Tech squad, Wright says that he was never worried about the outcome. What he liked most was that Kansas didn't look to use being without Wayne Simien or getting off to a poor start as an excuse, they just made plays.

"It was good to see how they weren't down on themselves and they came back and knocked down some really big shots," Wright told Phog.Net. "I also thought that Coach Self did a great job as well. Without Simien they had to rely on a lot of freshman and they didn't make any excuses about not being full strength."

Of course Wright couldn't help but envision himself out there on the court while watching. When asked to describe how he'll fit in or exactly what he brings to the table, he thought about it for a second and responded in a way that shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody who has followed him through the years.

"One thing comes to mind, that is X-Factor," said Wright of how he'll help. "I think I can be the kind of person who changes how the game is played on both ends of the floor."

When Wright says that he hopes to change the game on both ends of the floor he isn't kidding. He can post up smaller and bigger defenders, he can attack and pass off the dribble and he's a very good defender because of his quickness, hops, long arms and great anticipation.

Actually, Wright's game is really hard to explain and he kind of likes the idea that people have to really think about how they view the game when he takes the court.

"There's so much out there that I can do whether it is playing defense or talking to my teammates on the court, even if I'm not scoring or my shot isn't falling," said Wright. "I really want to change the way people look at the game and I know that it isn't just about scoring, it is about being a player."

In today's ever changing environment of high school basketball and early entry to the NBA, Wright understands that many people might expect that he'd take a hard look at the NBA. He's highly ranked, he has the kind of long and athletic frame that NBA types covet and he's similar in many ways to guys who have left out of high school before him.

However, he's not worried about what other people think or expect because he knows what he has to do to get ready for that step and it includes college.

"All I can say about that is that I don't see myself in a situation where I need to go," said Wright of the possibility of skipping college for the NBA. "I think I can help myself so much in college but in this day in time most people expect you to go to the NBA. I don't try to live up to other people's expectations; I try to live up to my own. I'll be at Kansas next year trying to get good grades in the fall and want to go to the final four in the spring.

"The best thing for me is to go to college and I know that."

Among the areas that Wright is looking to work on are his decision making, getting stronger and learning more about how to play the game on the college level. He figures that some of it is bound to come through maturity but after getting a very up close and personal look at the highest level of college basketball, he can see a lot of differences from the high school level.

"Intensity and the shot making under pressure are a big difference along with the expectation to not make mistakes," said Wright. "If you do make a mistake, you have to make up for it with a big play. In college you always have to be productive, even on an off night you have to be able to contribute in some way."

Even though he is only a teenager, Wright has been subjected to several people's opinions on him and his game. Whether it is a newspaper article, a hoops guru breaking down his game or an opposing fan, he understands that people are just expressing their opinions and he can't do anything but try and learn as much as he cans from those with his best interests at heart.

While some kids may take exception to any critiques of their game and speak out, Wright isn't interested in trading barbs about what he can do. He just wants to go out there and let his play talk for him.

"I kind of feel like when I'm on the court actions speak a lot louder than words," said Wright. "My mother has always told me that and I let my play do the talking when I step on the court."

Finally, Wright is looking forward to the rest of his senior season and he hopes to win a state championship this spring. He also admits that he's hoping to make the McDonald's All-American game and knows that whether he makes it or not won't define him.

"McDonald's All-American is a nice thing to say and it is a nice award to get on the high school level but too many people think they have it made because they were a McDonald's All-American," finished Wright. "Once you get to college it doesn't mean anything and nobody is going to care that you were a McDonald's All-American. You still have to go out there and get it done."

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