Dozens of athletes heard their names called at the NBA draft as their professional basketball dreams came true — and Delon Wright wasn’t among them.As Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and the rest of the 2014 draft class learned their fates, Wright, the Utah point guard who many believed could have turned pro after an all-conference season, was in Salt Lake, attending classes and preparing for his senior season.
“As a mother, I can tell you I’m glad he decided to go back to school,” Delon’s mother, Stacy, said.
Wright busted into the scene last season with the Utes, averaging 16.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.89 assists per game, earning first team all-Pac-12 honors and leading Utah to their first postseason since 2009.
As late as early February, Wright hardly considered himself a prospect, or at least he didn’t admit to it. In the first weeks of the new year, draftexpress.com listed Wright as a first-round pick in its 2015 mock draft. When asked about it, he genuinely seemed surprised at the sudden recognition, saying he couldn’t think about that now and just needed to focus on getting better, even going so far as mentioning his senior season.
Scouts started taking notice of Wright’s ability, and he got more and more praise as the season went on. By the end of his junior campaign, Wright had risen high enough on draft boards that he suddenly had a decision to make — whether or not to enter the 2014 NBA draft.
After the season ended in a loss to Saint Mary’s in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on March 18, Wright had to make his decision.
“It was very stressful,” Stacy Wright said. “I was getting calls from the coaches.”
Not wanting to face such a life-altering decision alone, Wright sought the advice of his parents.
“He did ask me for advice, and I told him that I thought it would be a better for him if he waited a year,” Ray Wright, Delon’s father, said.
The 2014 draft was seen as the deepest in years, and Ray Wright thought it would be in his son’s best interest to wait a year, get closer to a degree and get better on the court.
According to Stacy Wright, his brother, NBA forward Dorell Wright echoed those sentiments.
“He talked to [Dorell], and [Dorell] let him know that at the end of the day it was his decision, but he thought it would be best if he would be patient and wait,” she said.
Even with his family advising him to return to school and wait to go to the NBA, it wasn’t an easy decision for the star Ute.
“I did get a little worried there for a minute [that he would choose to enter the NBA draft],” Ray Wright said. “It just wasn’t something that I felt comfortable with.”
In the end, Wright decided to follow his family’s guidance, and on March 26, just eight days after the season ended, he met with Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak and informed him that he would be returning for his senior season.
Wright isn’t taking the summer easy, on or off the court, however. He is enrolled in summer courses as he pursues a degree in psychology and, according to his father, plans on working out with his brother in hopes of better preparing him for his season and eventually the NBA.
This time next year, the Wright brothers could both be playing at the highest level the sport has to offer — something to make any father proud.
“Basically I was just looking for them to get a scholarship at any school,” Ray Wright said. “I wasn’t looking past college. I never was like ‘oh, you’re going to go pro’ with Dorell or Delon.”
That said, the father knows what his sons are capable of and said that though many people have been surprised by the success Delon’s had at Utah, neither he nor his wife are among them.
“Delon just doesn’t surprise me,” Ray Wright said. “He’s always been one of those players that nobody looks at, but then at the end of games you realize all the stuff he had done.”
Stacy Wright had similar words to say about her son.
“He had a pretty good season at City College of San Francisco, too,” She said. “I wasn’t surprised [by what he did], but he surprised a lot of people because they hadn’t heard from him before.”
A lot have heard of him now, and with another season like Wright had last year, there’s a good chance he will hear his name called at the 2015 NBA draft.