Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak isn’t a prophet, and refuses to call himself one. But before the start of the season, he envisioned the type of year his junior college transfer Delon Wright could have in his first season with the Utes.
"I did make a comment before we even started playing games that I thought Delon was going to be a stat sheet-stuffer in terms of affecting the game in a lot of areas," Krystkowiak said. "He’s had double-digit rebounding games, double-digit assist games and is shooting and distributing the ball with a high efficiency. If we can get his feet in the paint he seems to make the right play the majority of the time. (He has) a number of deflections. They’re just a lot of ways he impacts the game."
Stuffing the stat sheet is nothing new for Wright. He made a name for himself doing that at Leuzinger High School while leading the Olympians to the first CIF title in school history. He credits his head coach Reggie Morris Jr., now at Redondo Union High, for helping him to focus on other things on the floor besides scoring the basketball.
"He saw in me early being able to get my hands on balls," Wright said of his high school coach. "If a ball would go by me and I wouldn’t put my hands up he’d make me run. Then he just made me rebound more because we needed rebounding. He made me do more things early and I just took it to another level with putting it all together. "
Utah and the Pac-12 are seeing now what he was able to do in high school, prep school, and later at the City College of San Francisco where he was a two-time conference MVP.
As Krystkowiak acknowledged, Wright impacts the game in many ways, but perhaps the most telling sign of his impact in his first season with the Utes is field goal percentage.
As Utah takes on Southern California’s Pac-12 schools, Wright is shooting a stellar 59.7 percent from the field as a point guard. That’s fourth best in the conference and higher than any other perimeter player in the Pac-12. It’s also 14th in the nation.
Shooting such a high percentage from the field is rare for a guard, and Krystkowiak says it’s a result of Wright’s ability to take high percentage shots, which stems from his high basketball IQ. As far as that goes, Wright comes from good stock. He’s the younger brother of Portland Trail Blazers forward Dorell Wright — also a Leuzinger product.
Wright has been able to cut his teeth playing with other NBA players, tagging along with his big brother and also in the Drew League.
"(I learn) the hard work (from pros), and seeing after we play a couple games these guys just put up extra shots," Wright said. "They’re going to workout more. Playing in the Drew, guys are more physical with you and you have to be smarter with the ball…just the little things."
The road it’s taken Wright to reach Division I isn’t the most sought after. He admits it was tough for him watching his peers compete at the highest level of college basketball knowing that he was able to do so as well, but couldn’t because of academic shortcomings. Now that he has the opportunity, he’s making the most of it and impacting the Utah program the best way he knows how — stuffing the stat sheet.
Wright’s 3.1 steals per game lead the league, as does his 38.8 minutes per game. He’s third in assists (4.9), seventh in scoring (17.3), seventh in blocks (1.4), and 13th in rebounds (6.7).
It was a successful homecoming for Delon, Brandon and Dakarai as the Utes topped USC, 79-71 and improved to 17-7! pic.twitter.com/2VK20hJH0w
"(I have to) keep continuing to play hard," Wright said. "Playing hard has gotten me far. I’m not the most talented, but just know being able to play hard and try to out-think my competition that’s a big thing that’s been helping me so far."