FREMONT – James Wright has all the tools one could want for a starting point guard.
The Fremont Ross senior possesses terrific ball-handling skills and a quick first step which allows him to repeatedly drive to the basket. He is as comfortable launching 30-foot jumpers as he is setting up his teammates for layups.
With the ball in his hands for the first time Tuesday night as the Little Giants hosted Clay High School, Wright calmly brought the ball up court, stopped at the top of the key and drained a 3-pointer.
While Wright has all the tools for a starting point guard, which he was for the first half of the season, his bomb against Clay came midway through the opening quarter, moments after entering the game as the Little Giants’ sixth man.
Midway through the season, Wright and coach Mark Gedeon agreed to experiment with the notion of the 5-foot-10 senior coming off the bench about midway through the first quarter.
“I think he’s done a great job embracing it,” Gedeon said. “Some players, in today’s society, would say ‘I’ve got to be a starter, I’ve got to have so-many shots,’ it’s about me, me, me. But here is a situation where he’s putting the team first.”
Following the Little Giants’ win over Fostoria on Jan. 24, Gedeon and Wright thought a move from the starting lineup to being the first off the bench would help Wright begin the game more smoothly.
With the game already underway, his nerves would ease and he could slide into the flow of the game.
“I think seeing them go down and back-and-forth, seeing what (opponents) do allows me to calm my nerves and kind of figure out what I’m doing before I go in,” Wright said. “It really helps a lot.”
It’s hard to argue with the results.
Ross has gone 4-4, including a three-game winning streak, since Wright started coming off the bench. Two of those losses in that time came by just one point. Wright is averaging 11.3 points a night, including four games of 13 or more points, since the switch.
In Tuesday’s 83-45 win over Clay, Wright scored 13 and had six assists – one shy of his career-high.
“I think a lot of it was he put pressure on himself. Senior. Point Guard. Very talented, plus-speed, plus-dribbles,” Gedeon said. “I think (coming off the bench) allowed him to almost be like a car and down-shifting a little bit so you don’t over-rev the engine. He is such a high-energy player and he is an impact player. These last five or six games, he’s been dynamite for us.”
Friday the Little Giants (7-13 overall, 3-9 Three Rivers Athletic Conference) will host Toledo St. Francis de Sales (10-10, 5-7). The game will be Ross’ final home contest of the season and Wright will go back into the starting lineup with his fellow seniors for the occasion.
Though some players might view moving from the starting lineup to being the sixth man as a demotion, Wright said he just sees it as doing his part for the team.
“It wasn’t about one person’s stats or one person’s points,” Wright said. “We need to worry about working together as a team and getting that W. I look at it as helping my team and if me coming off the bench makes us a better team, I’m all for it.”