Utah guard Delon Wright, who became the first player from the program to earn first-team all-conference honors from the Pac-12, informed head coach Larry Krystkowiak in a meeting Wednesday that he plans to return for his senior season.
Without Wright, Utah would still have been a top tier Pac-12 team next season. They return their other five major contributors in their rotation and are bringing in a superstar freshman in Brekkott Chapman in at power forward.
But with Wright? Watch out. He shouldered an incredible load in minutes (over 36 a game) and didn't really tire out until his final few games of the year. He was the team's most efficient passer (Brandon Taylor turned the ball over more than he distributed assists), he got to the free throw line while also avoiding foul trouble, he led the team in steals and was right up there in blocks, he was an excellent rebounder, and he was just plain efficient (62% two point shooter, almost 80% free throw shooter). (For those who want to look at his overall statistical impact, Light The U has a GREAT visual summary of what Wright brings.)
With Wright handling all those minutes, that will relieve the burden on the rest of the rotation. Brandon Taylor can continue to grow and develop into a full-time point guard while not having to worry about shouldering the entire load at the point. Dakarai Tucker and Princeton Onwas can still continue to share duties at small forward, while Kenneth Ogbe just has to worry about his internal growth. And with Chapman coming in, Jordan Loveridge doesn't have to feel as much of a burden playing out of position at the four.
Considering the talent leaving the conference this season, it'd be hard not to project Wright being the prohibitive favorite to be next year's Pac-12 Player of the Year. And Utah immediately leaps to the forefront of teams that should challenge to win the Pac-12 next year.
PS: For those wondering who I am, this is your local SB Nation Pac-12 manager Avinash filling in for a few days until the new staff is in place. For those of you worrying about the future of this site, Block U is in good hands. I'll be filling in the blanks until we get things up and running, then when the new team is ready to go I'll disappear once again.