Chad Ford Interviews Julian Wright

Kansas City native, acknowledged KU fan, and ESPN.com draft guru Prof. Chad Ford asks about Wright's draft preparation, last year's Kansas team, the loss to UCLA specifically, Kevin Durant's NBA potential (SPOILER WARNING: Wright thinks Durant will be really, really good.), and who Wright would prefer to be drafted by. I am not entirely sure that this podcast is new (the interview itself is a few days old) nor am I entirely sure that this is not Insider content.

Apologies should either element of my confusion cause inconvenience.

Julian Wright: The Day After

The Journal-World's lead story includes the following key quotes from Wright:

"Money has never been my motivation. It's not my family's motivation. It's not about the money."

"I feel I can advance my game playing at the next level."

"I never really looked into anything about the NBA because it's not what my focus was throughout the year. I knew it would not be good for the team. Nobody on the team is looking out for individual things. After the season unwound, I started looking into some things. The interest sparked from there."

"My family has been doing a lot in terms of getting in contact with some people, not directly with any agents. No advisers, just me and my family and what's in my heart."

The Journal-World also has video of the press conference, a notes piece (including speculation regarding Brandon Rush's impending decision), and a Tom Keegan column.

The Kansas City Star story includes this unique quote from Wright:

"This is hard. Trust me. It's hard. It's been my toughest decision ever."

And this one from Bill Self:

"The reality is that things are probably going to work out really good for him. To be very candid, if I was Julian and I was in this situation, I'm not sure I wouldn't make the very same choice. This is a good business decision."

Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider) agrees that Wright has made a sound business decision:

"Wright would be taking a pretty significant risk by waiting another year. If he struggled to improve his consistency or his offensive prowess, scouts might quit talking about his upside and might start tearing apart his game next season. When you factor in injury, that's a lot of risk for guy ranked No. 7 in our Top 100."

DraftExpress.com has Julian 8th in their mock draft (which does not take team need into account).

NBADraft.net has Julian 9th in their mock draft. The extra player they have ahead of Julian is Yi Jianlian.

Julian Wright Entering NBA Draft

It's official. I think that the immediate and long-term financial benefits derived from a guaranteed contract make a compelling case for turning pro as soon as you're a highly probable lottery pick. Nor is it a bad idea to turn pro in a year when Phoenix (58-19, 2nd seed in West), Detroit (49-27, 1st seed in East), and Chicago (46-32, 2nd seed in East) each project to have top-15 picks (as of today) in the draft.

I also think that, if you assume that Julian Wright has room to improve as a basketball player (and I do), it's likely that he will improve more and at a quicker pace if he's playing basketball professionally than as a student-athlete at the University of Kansas, playing (at most) 20-25 meaningful games in between limited practice time while taking a heavier-than-average course load in pursuit of early graduation.

Here's Julian's stats from the past two years.

stats glossary

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions

Year %Min eFG% FT% PPWS Pts A TO BS S OR% DR%
FR 50.3 57.8 55.7 1.17 24.3 5.1 5.7 3.4 2.9 9.2 14.2
SO 68.3 55.3 61.3 1.14 25.2 4.5 5.0 2.7 3.0 11.0 20.0

He will be missed.

Also, Julian's 06-07 stats in comparison with those from some other big men projected to go in the first round.

Name %Min eFG% FT% PPWS Pts A TO BS S OR% DR%
Noah 64.6 60.7 66.3 1.28 27.8 5.2 5.8 4.2 2.6 13.3 24.6
B Wright 66.3 64.6 56.7 1.29 29.4 2.0 3.2 3.5 2.0 8.8 15.8
J Wright 68.3 55.3 61.3 1.14 25.2 4.5 5.0 2.7 3.0 11.0 20.0
Horford 66.1 60.8 64.4 1.27 28.5 4.7 3.9 4.0 1.6 12.2 27.0
McRoberts 87.2 50.9 66.4 1.10 22.5 6.0 4.2 4.3 2.0 7.6 19.4

The Chicago Shave

Julian Wright and Sherron Collins have been inducted into Luke Winn's Style Archive for their matching shaved-in hair designs from earlier this year. Says Winn:

KU's Chicago duo had matching patterns in the front-right portion of their close-cropped 'dos in late January. KU readers: If you have any more information on the design's significance, leave it in the comments.

Jayhawks need to get their "buts" in gear.

I'm generally not a big Seth Davis fan, but his latest Hoop Thoughts hits the nail on the head with regard to the Jayhawks:

This is still a Bill Self-coached group, so you know they play some mean D. ... There is also something to be said for having a variety of different weapons to keep opponents off balance. ... But in order to win an NCAA championship, a team at some point will need a great escape. (Think Danny Ainge, Tyus Edney and Christian Laettner.) When that critical moment comes, be it in the first round or the Final Four, whom will Kansas turn to?

Then he goes through the potential candidates.

Brandon Rush?

...has been shooting pretty well the past month, but the word is out that he is not a good ball handler. That makes him easy to defend in the half-court -- and he knows it. Plus, Rush does not have the mentality to take over a game in a tough spot.

Julian Wright?

a dynamic athlete, but his forte is passing and he does his best scoring in transition, not in the half-court.

Russell Robinson?

mentally tough, but he is averaging just 6.8 points ... and making 41.1 percent of his shots

Mario Chalmers?

has the skills to take over ... but apparently lacks the moxie to demand the ball like [Acie] Law did [on Saturday]

Sherron Collins?

The one player with the skills and the moxie to be a go-to guy ... But it's hard to imagine a freshman taking on that role, even if he is from Chicago.

Out of all of these choices, Chalmers and Collins have the least standing between them and "go-to player" status. They have the skill sets, they just need a little attitude (Chalmers) or experience (Collins). There's been a growing sentiment on this site that Collins needs to be the man with the ball in his hands at the end of the game, and I'm beginning to agree. From the looks of it, I think Seth Davis is as well. (Now if we can just get Bill Self on board...)

Julian Wright Interview

Luke Winn interviews Julian Wright at SI.com. LW: If the night before the Florida win was serious, what was the night after like in Vegas?

JW: We actually left right away. People were happy, but they were tired, too -- it was a high-intensity game. We watched the tape on the way back, and even though we won, we knew we still had work to do, that it's just a stepping stone to getting better.

LW: So you're telling me no one wanted to pull an all-nighter on the Strip.

JW: I think a lot of guys wanted to stay a little bit longer, but it was a tiring trip. We didn't even get back into our rooms until sunrise. Had we gone out [in Vegas], I would have been more scared for the staff than the players. (Laughing.)

Ed. UPDATE: Got to pull out this quote from the comments (thanks Harger):

My name is Tad and I love Julian more than anything in the world. Words can't describe my passion -Tad

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