After weeks (and weeks and weeks!) of hunting on the recruiting trail, Mike Boynton and his staff reeled in a big one on Monday, securing a commitment from High Point transfer guard John-Michael Wright. A two-time All-Big South performer, Wright gives the Cowboys a needed presence at guard — OSU is losing Isaac Likekele, Bryce Williams is graduating and Avery Anderson is testing the NBA Draft waters — and as a 3-point shooter to boot.
Here’s what it means for the Pokes ahead of 2022.
1. Boynton strikes in the transfer portal
With more than 1,400 players in the transfer portal, there really has been no reason for OSU to panic on its 2022 roster even if it has for weeks (and weeks and weeks, remember) been lacking substance and slowly been gutted by the portal. Unlike the pre-transfer portal chaos era, rosters — and good ones! — can be assimilated deep into the spring and into summer.
But missing out on some of the top transfers in recent weeks made it feel like landing a transfer was of the utmost importance to prove it could contend in this new era. Now OSU’s got one, and a good one at guard — a position of need it presumably is no more.
Here’s the truth: the transfer market has been hit or miss in recent years since Boynton took over. Ferron Flavors was a whiff, for instance. And Jonathan Laurent comes to mind as someone who didn’t quite fit. But last year with Moussa Cisse and Bryce Thompson especially it was a big hit for the Pokes.
Here’s to hoping that trend with Wright continues.
2. A lead guard
With Likekele moving on from OSU, Wright most likekele takes over the lead guard spot at OSU regardless of whether Avery Anderson stays at OSU or remains in the NBA Draft. He made 85 starts at point guard with High Point in three seasons, including a high point of his career two seasons ago in which he had a 25.4% assist rate. For his career, he averaged 17.4 points and 2.9 assists per game.
He’s not, however, a pass-first point guard. He’s a natural scorer who can also pass. There’s a difference. I think his style fits OSU given its various weapons in the backcourt, and I also think he has the talent to take over as the starting point, but his passing and creation abilities didn’t produce big assist numbers and his assist/turnover ratio wasn’t great, either. My read on this: the talent at High Point isn’t close to what he’ll be paired next to at OSU — hence the bet here by OSU’s staff that next to high-major talent, those abilities will have a chance to flourish.
3. His role at OSU
OSU’s lineup last year looked like ….
PG: Avery Anderson
SG: Rondel Walker
SF: Bryce Thompson
PF: Isaac Likekele
C: Moussa Cisse
My hunch is that for now, unless OSU adds another playmaker, Wright will plug into the point guard spot as the starter and push Avery into a more natural position off the ball.
Wright profiles as someone who is interchangeable in that role, too. A career 34.6% 3-point shooter, he’s been someone who scores it from deep at a respectable rate on very high volume. He won’t have the same usage at OSU nor the same amount of attention paid to him, which could open him up to be an even more efficient scorer, albeit — especially next to Bryce Thompson and Avery Anderson — in a slightly lesser role.
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