In a season that is only five games old, Silver Bluff senior Donte Wright has already ridden a production roller coaster.
In some games, like the team’s Nov. 30 62-57 loss to Midland Valley, he’s an unstoppable scoring force. In that game, Wright poured in 28 points and made three 3-pointers to go with a 7-for-7 performance from the free-throw line. He was, by far, the Bulldogs’ best offensive player in that contest, and seemingly every shot he put up came down in the basket.
Other games, he can’t seem to find a rhythm. Friday’s loss to Aiken was one such game, with Wright scoring only 10 points and missing his only free-throw attempt in the 80-55 loss to the Hornets, a team he scored 21 points on when they met in the season opener.
If Wright is overthinking things a bit, it’s easy to see why. The sensational 5-foot-10 guard was selected to the All-Aiken Standard first team as a junior and is already receiving attention from Francis Marion, where he’s taken an official visit, and Lamar.
Silver Bluff head coach Robbie McKenzie said he thinks Wright is still learning how to put aside the thoughts about his future.
“With him, he presses a little bit. He thinks about it,” McKenzie said of his senior leader. “He presses a litle bit, and I’ve got to calm him down. One thing I always say is, ‘This play, this moment.’ I say that a lot during the game.”
That is a lesson that Wright is taking to heart.
“Honestly, I just try to focus on the game. On the weekend or something, I might try to send out a couple of e-mails here or there, but other than that, I just try to stay focused on the game,” the senior said. “Because I know if I don’t take care of what’s here now, I won’t be able to go where I’m trying to go in the future.”
One factor most high school seniors have to stress about is academics. Knowing that all their work on the court or field could be nullified by a poor grade or test score, their studies can become a burden.
McKenzie said that’s one thing Wright won’t have to worry about.
“He’s such a good student ... which is huge for college recruiting,” McKenzie said.
Wright said that, while he has been able to get the grades he wants and needs, they have not come without great effort.
“I have to work; I really do,” he said. “Last year, me and my dad always stressed, I told my dad... ‘First quarter, I made all A’s and B’s,’ and I was like ‘Man, I think I need to make start making all A’s.’ So the second and third quarter, I just made straight A’s.”
That academic performance, paired with his on-the-court prowess, have allowed Wright the opportunity to look ahead to his college future.
FMU plays a style of basketball that Wright finds appealing, as the Patriots are off to a 3-1 start and averaging an astonishing 126 points per game.
That focus on high-octane offense from the Peach Belt Conference competitor is right up Wright’s alley.
“They try to get up and down, and they try to get the ball in the air. They try shoot the ball like first 8 to 10 seconds on the shot clock,” he said. “As you know, that’s what I do best – shoot the ball.”
But just because he’s already thinking about how and where he’d like to play at the next level doesn’t mean Wright is done thinking about the Bulldogs’ success. Individual goals aside, the team’s 1-4 start isn’t where he wants to be during his senior year, although he recognizes the Bulldogs are adjusting to nine of the team’s 17 players only being available after football season ended on Nov. 23.
“Team-wise, I just want to win games. I hate being (1-4) as of right now,” Wright said. “As you know, we just got together these past couple weeks. I feel like we’re one of the best teams in the area; therefore, we shouldn’t be losing these close games we’ve been having.”
Wright and the Bulldogs will be back in action on Tuesday when they host Swansea, a team that beat them 52-49 on Dec. 5.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.