Wright Is A Major Target

St. John's College High point guard Chris Wright was arguably the top player at last week's Glaxo Invitational, as the junior won the Most Outstanding Player Award.

St. John's College High point guard Chris Wright was arguably the top player at last week's Glaxo Invitational, as the junior won the Most Outstanding Player Award.

Wright averaged 24 points as St. John's went 2-1 and finished in 3rd place, and he believes it will help his team as conference play is set to begin.

"It was a good experience," said Wright. "It was good to play in big games like that. It was good to see the facilities at NC State and to be around the media... just to be in the spotlight."

After the tournament he spent two more days in Raleigh and attended NC State's nonconference matchup against George Washington. The Colonels, who entered the game ranked No. 12 in the country, were no match for the Wolfpack.

NC State, a team that has consistently been mentioned near the top of Wright's list, impressed him with their play.

"It was very good," Wright said of the game. "It was very good to see them play like that. They play exceptionally well on defense. Going into the game George Washington averaged 84 points per game, and they held them to shoot less than 30% shooting.

"They played well defensively, they shut down their big man, and it was good for me to see how NC State plays. It was a good experience."

The game gave Wright a chance to closely watch NC State's structured offense, a system that has received some criticism in the past for not being favorable to a point guard.

"Of course everybody has concerns about things, and I used to have concerns about that because I used to think you took the ball out of the best players hands too much," he said. "But, as you watch it, and the thing I've noticed is, they have never really had a top-tier point guard where the point guard has been able to breakdown the opposing defense and create a lot of havoc for the other team.

"I like their offense. I think it would be very conducive to a point guard like myself. Tony [Bethel] and [Engin] Atsur are doing well in it too.

"I guess you can call it the Princeton-style offense or whatever, but they have changed it up. It's looking more like a traditional offense. They have a lot of high screen-and-rolls and penetration.

"I think what they really want to do is they want to run. I think they are doing a good job of that."

Wright with Costner (left) and Fells (front)

NC State's offense is similar to systems that are becoming popular in the National Basketball Association. Certain teams in the NBA use traditional "Princeton" principles to create a variety of offensive systems and are having a lot of success.

Wright pointed out that showing he could flourish in an offense like NC State's would be a great opportunity because it is a style that is growing popular in the NBA.

"I think it would be a great opportunity," he said. "That system can be very conducive in helping you get to the next level. In the NBA, NBA teams run that style of offense. The Washington Wizards, Sacremento Kings, and New Jersey Nets, they run that style.

"I think if I thrived and did well in that offense it would set me up well for the NBA."

The four-star point guard also talked about NC State's young talent. He had a chance to see the Wolfpack sophomore frontcourt in action against an athletic and deep George Washington squad, and is also familiar with a couple of freshmen from the AAU circuit.

"They are good," Wright said. "Simmons is a very talented player. Once he gets his offensive game down he is going to be very, very good. Brackman is just a great athlete. He can do it on both ends of the floor, runs the court well, handles well, and can shoot well. Even though he might be better at baseball, he's very good at basketball.

"Then you've got kids like Courtney Fells that haven't seen a lot of time this year, but he's super-athletic, can shoot well, and is a good defender. Then Brandon Costner, who has also been hurt. I think they have a good core of young kids.

"I did watch some games with them at the Glaxo. It was comfortable being around them. They were all good people and good to talk to. I like them, and I like the coaching staff. It is very easy to be around them."

Wright was a major target at the tournament. Head coaches Herb Sendek (NC State), Jay Wright (Villanova), and Skip Prosser (Wake Forest) were all courtside for the tourney opener, along with Duke's top assistant, Johnny Dawkins. Their presence didn't hamper his play, and Wright has an interesting approach to playing basketball in what would seem like a pressure situation.

Skip Prosser and Jay Wright

"It wasn't hard because you have been dealing with them the whole summer," he said. "I just think of it as another game. What people fail to realize is that they are average people too. They might be the head coach of some school, but they are just another person.

"You just have to look at it that way and try to do your best. They already like me anyways... it's not like I need to prove myself."

He has narrowed his list of schools to NC State, Villanova, Wake Forest, and Duke, with the Blue Devils being the only program that has yet to offer a scholarship.

High school players are making decisions now earlier than ever, and Wright says his could come at anytime.

"Yes, it's still those four schools," said Wright. "I'm not sure right now [of a leader], because I have to look into the school and all that.

"[A decision] could come tomorrow, it could come next year, it could come in two weeks. Whenever I feel comfortable and whenever I feel is the right time, I'll do it.

"I'm pretty sure of what I want to do right now, but I'm really going to look into everything. You've got to have a backup plan after basketball, so I have to look into the school and everything."

NC State's believed to be the leader by most, but a team that is really making a push is Villanova. Wright visited the Big East program for a basketball game in early December, and he raved about the team and offensive system.

"I like Villanova," he said. "It's a lot of guards. They play four guards and it is similar to how I used to play with D.C. Assault. It's guard-oriented and there is freedom to create, distribute, and just make plays instinctively so I like Villanova a lot."

Duke has also increased their interest. The Blue Devils, who missed on five-star guard Eric Gordon a few months ago, are monitoring Wright's progress before determining if they will offer.

Wright is a major target
"Things have progressed," he said. "Coach K and coach Collins showed up to my school to see a practice a little while ago. I've talked to their coaches multiple times, and they have been showing more interest. Coach Dawkins came to my first game. It's starting to pick up."

Wright, who admits that he grew up a Blue Devil fan, has heard the rumors. Some believe the reason he hasn't decided yet is because he's waiting on a Duke offer. Is that the case?

"I'm not waiting on anything," he said. "What I have in front of me is good. The thing with Duke is they are so powerful they can come in at the last second and get anybody they want. But that's not the case, I mean if they come in we'll see what happens.

"It's not something that I'm necessarily waiting on to see what they do. I'm just weighing my options right now. A lot of people make the mistake in thinking I'm waiting on Duke, which is not necessarily true. I'm just not sure of what I want to do yet."

His parents will also factor into his decision, as they will give him background information on all four programs.

"They have their say," Wright said. "They say where they think will be a good decision for me, but when it boils down to it the decision will be made by me.

"When it comes down to it, it's a decision I am going to have to make because it is my future. They give me information about the schools, but in the long-run it's going to be my decision."

Looking for a deciding factor? Wright says there are several that will go into what college he chooses to attend.

"There are several aspects," he said. "Basketball-wise, you have to go to a place where you can win a national championship, and of course where you are going to get to play at. Then on top of that where you have a good coaching staff, a good relationship with the coaching staff.

"School-wise, I want to go into law, and I have to look at a school that has a strong law school."

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