For Namon Wright, it simply was time for a change.
After two solid years with Missouri that ended with an up-and-down sophomore season, Wright traded his Tigers stripes to become part of the Buffaloes herd, committing to coach Tad Boyle’s Colorado basketball program in June as a transfer.
Wright was one of three players to transfer out of the Missouri either during or immediately after the season. Yet he was quick to say that at least in his case, it was less about program instability than it was about finding a comfortable fit at a place where he can occasionally play in front of his family and friends from his native Los Angeles.
“I think I just needed a new home, a new fit,” Wright said. “It just wasn’t the right place for me. (Colorado) definitely recruited me out of high school and I had a couple other schools in the Pac-12 looking at me out of high school, but I didn’t really look at them because just how my recruitment worked out.”
Per NCAA transfer rules, Wright will sit out the 2016-17 season and have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017-18. He was one of two players Boyle was able to add late after a pair of scholarships opened up from the transfers of former CU players Tre’Shaun Fletcher and Kenan Guzonjic after the season. The other was another Los Angeles product, 6-foot-10 forward Lucas Siewert, who will be a freshman this fall.
A 6-foot-5 guard, Wright presumably will have one season to play alongside fellow 6-6 wing player George King and two seasons with incoming 6-5 freshmen guards Deleon Brown and Bryce Peters. Wright’s addition allows Boyle to count on an experienced Division I player to join the mix with a quartet of new faces in 2017-18 following the graduation next year of seniors Xavier Johnson, Wesley Gordon, Josh Fortune and Derrick White.
“Colorado is one of those schools where they are doing good every year,” Wright said. “Definitely I think people are starting to realize it’s a successful program.”
Wright started all 31 games last season for a Missouri team that finished last in the Southeastern Conference with a 3-15 league mark. He ranked as the team’s third-leading scorer at 9.6 points per game but suffered a significant dip in his shooting percentages from his freshman season, dropping from .414 to .355 overall and falling from .388 to .315 from 3-point range.
Wright admits he was pressing somewhat at the season’s outset and believes he corrected some of his errors as the season progressed. The numbers back this slightly, as he shot .330 during nonconference play but improved to .370 in SEC games.
And, to his credit, Wright made drastic improvements in other aspects of his game. He led the Tigers with a 5.2 rebounding average after posting a 2.3 mark as a freshman while also more than doubling his assists total. Despite being a regular part of the Missouri rotation as a freshman Wright attempted just 18 free throws all season. He got to the line 113 times last year and knocked them down at a .761 clip.
Wright is confident he can further hone these overall aspects of his game while being relegated to a practice player this winter.
“I get to practice every day, I get to lift weights every day to get stronger, and at the same time I get to work on my game,” Wright said. “The year off will be great for me I think.”
Pat Rooney: twitter.com/prooney07