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Utah Utes basketball: Versatile Wright is a "stat sheet stuffer" for the Utes

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 12 2013 11:38 p.m. MST

Utah Utes guard Delon Wright (55) as the University of Utah defeats Evergreen State 128-44 in men's basketball for their season home opener Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, in Salt Lake City.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A few days before Utah’s home opener last week, Delon Wright confessed one of his goals this year was to get a triple-double, something that has only been accomplished twice in the 105-year history of Utah basketball.

To remind you, Andre Miller and Alex Jensen are the only two players who have produced double figures in three categories. Miller did it against Arizona in 1998 and Jensen against Fresno State in 1999.

Yet in his first game as a Ute, Wright very nearly accomplished the rare feat, getting 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. For that matter, he wasn’t that far off an unheard-of quadruple-double as he also finished with seven steals.

Of course the competition wasn’t great as the Utes rolled to a 128-44 victory over Evergreen State. But also consider this — Wright accomplished all that in just 25 of the 40 minutes. With another five or 10 minutes, he might have accomplished his goal. Oh, and did we mention that he had three blocked shots and shot 87.5 percent from the field on 7-of-8 shooting?

“I like getting triple doubles, that’s really exciting,’’ said Wright, who had four in high school and junior college. “Now that I’m getting closer, it’s actually a goal of mine to get a few.’’

It helps that Wright is an unselfish player, who, unlike your average basketball player, hardly thinks about scoring, A self-described “late bloomer,’’ Wright said his high school coach told him he had to “do everything” if he wanted to play.

“I wasn’t a scorer, it just wasn’t my game, I guess,’’ he said. “I’m more of a passer. I’m not worried about scoring, so I try to get assists and rebounds. I try to be a little different. I’d rather win and have no points than have 50 points and lose.’’

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak calls Wright a “stat sheet stuffer” because of the many things he can do on the court.

“He can score it, but he’s one of those guys who makes really good decisions and is a good playmaker with the ball in his hands,’’ said Krystkowiak. “He’s one of those guys who doesn’t do anything great maybe, but is kind of a stat sheet stuffer who by the time the game’s over, he might have 14 points, seven assists and seven rebounds and some deflections and steals.’’

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The first thing you may notice about Wright on the court is the jersey number — 55.

Fifty-five? Isn’t that a number usually worn by a 6-foot-10, 260-pound bulky center who parks in the paint most of the game? It certainly isn’t a number of a skinny guard, who slithers around the court, making steals and firing nifty passes to teammates.

Wright explains the odd number by saying he always wore the number 1 until be got to junior college where the number was already taken. So since he couldn’t have the lowest number, he went with the highest possible number a college player can wear. When he came to Utah, he decided to stick with it.

“Nobody else wanted it,’’ he said. “I said I’m going to keep 55 because I’ve had good luck with it.’’

If you see Wright up close, he looks more like a college freshman than a 21-year-old junior college transfer. In fact you might think he looks more like a 16-year-old, especially with his braces, which he’s had for four years (he says he should have gotten them off a couple of years ago but hasn’t been back to Los Angeles to see his orthodontist).

Wright stands 6-foot-5 and weighs just 180 pounds. He’s grown a couple of inches since high school and says he would like to eventually put on another 20 pounds or so.

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