By Joe Pinter, @JPinter93
Watching the raising of the Atlantic 10 and NCAA Second Round banners on opening night last year had to be tough for the freshman on the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team.
Fighting for playing time on a senior-laden roster was even harder than missing out on a historic run in March.
Dion Wright played in 13 games last season but only averaged about five minutes per game. His best performance came on March 2 vs. Dayton. Wright played only 11 minutes but had 15 points on 6 for 7 shooting.
He took the learning experience in stride and worked hard in the off season.
“I feel like I spent a lot of hours in the gym, and I got better with my jump shot and my strength,” Wright said. “I think last year I weighed about 210 lbs. I’m at about 218 lbs. right now.”
Wright spent much of his time working with assistant coach Dave Moore on different aspects of his game. While he worked mostly with Moore, he said he tried to spend nearly as much time with the other coaches since each coach has their own way of teaching.
In addition to his strength, Wright said he believes his rebounding has vastly improved.
Head coach Mark Schmidt wasn’t all that surprised that some of the freshmen struggled last season. He said it’s extremely difficult to come in and learn the system and the speed of the college game.
“Not just here at Bonaventure, but throughout the country. You can tell a player is going to become a player during their sophomore year because now he understands what it takes…”
Still, feeling more relaxed may be the biggest change in Wright’s game.
“Last year was a big adjustment,” Wright said. “I was far away from my family. The weather was new to me. I just tried to make the most of it. It was a little big getting used to. High school I played a lot and then coming here and not playing a lot. It was a learning experience, but I went through it.”
The Carson, Calif. native led Mayfair High School, ranked No. 19 in the state, to a 27-6 record and a California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section 2A Championship. After the season, he was named the CIF Southern Section Division II Player of the Year.
He has his sights set on another championship.
“I would love for us to win an A-10 championship,” Wright said. “Seeing the guys from 2012, those guys that were on that team and won; that was really awesome.”
“I just want to make sure my team wins,” Wright said. “Whatever I have to do when I’m on the court…”
Wright also comes from a winning tradition at Mayfield; the same school that produced NBA player Josh Childress.
Not every recruit can be as ready as Andrew Nicholson was, Schmidt said. And that’s OK. Most freshmen struggle. But Schmidt has high expectations for Wright.
He didn’t need many words to describe what Wright brings to the Bonnies.
“He can put the ball in the basket,” Schmidt said.
After a trying first season, Wright said he is ready to play his part in helping the Bonnies win.