McKinley Wright’s mom, Yolanda Hitchcock, put him on the basketball court when he was a baby. He started playing when he was 6. Ever since, he has trained to get to the next level.
“Now it’s here,” Wright said Wednesday.
Wright, a 6-foot, 180-pound point guard, announced his verbal commitment to the Dayton Flyers on Tuesday at a press conference at Champlin Park High School in Champlin Park, Minn. He’s the third member of the class of 2017 to pick UD, following 6-4 guard Jordan Davis, of Irmo, S.C., and 6-11 forward/center Jordan Pierce, of Scotch Plains, N.J.
Dayton’s current starting point guard, senior Scoochie Smith, helped convince Wright to come to Dayton when Wright visited campus last weekend.
“I hung out with him a lot,” Wright said. “I like Scoochie a lot. I went out with him a couple times. He gave me tips on what I have to do to be ready as a freshman at the next level.”
Wright got to know all the players. They went out to eat at Waffle House. They played together in an open gym.
“I got to see what it felt like to be a college player,” Wright said. “I built a great relationship with them. I already had a great relationship with Archie (Miller) and TO (Tom Ostrom).”
Dayton started recruiting Wright last September, he said. Ostrom was the main assistant in charge of his recruitment.
“He just recruited me very hard, harder than any school in the country,” Wright said. “He made sure my family was doing good. I know he cares about me outside of basketball. God forbid, if I had a career-ending injury, he’d be there for me.”
Wright led Champlin Park with 19.7 points per game last season. He averaged 5.8 assists and 8.3 rebounds.
Al Harris, Wright’s AAU coach with D1 Minnesota, said Wright doesn’t need to be told to work on his game. He goes to the gym on his own. He’s self motivated.
“He’s always been a double-double kid,” Harris said. “He’s a very talented kid. He does a lot of things. He will do anything at all costs to win whether that means he’s got to defend, score or rebound. He’s just kind of an old-fashioned point guard. He can do it all. He’s pass-first, a leader of a team, like a quarterback. I think he’s getting a great opportunity with them, and they’re getting an exceptional point guard that is pretty much similar to what they’ve always had, especially with Scoochie.”
Wright picked Dayton over his hometown team, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who picked up a verbal commitment from another point guard, Isaiah Washington, the day before Wright was scheduled to make his decision.
“That didn’t really change my mind,” Wright said. “They wanted us to play together, but I knew UD was the spot for me, just because of the way they recruited me as a player and a person off the court.”
Wright will now focus on his senior year. The Champlin Park Rebels finished 21-7 last season and return Wright and Marquette recruit Theo John, a 6-9 forward. The Rebels have won 20 or more games three seasons in a row.
“I want to win a state championship,” Wright said. “Champlin Park has never done that. We have the talent to do that. That’s a really big goal for me. I want to do my best to win Minnesota Mr. Basketball.”
Dayton has two scholarships remaining in the class of 2017. Here are some of the other players it’s recruiting:
• Anthony Gaines, a 6-4 guard from Kingston, N.Y., and New Hampton School (N.H.), will visit UD this weekend, according to Adam Finkelstein, of ESPN Recruiting Nation.
• Keith Williams, a 6-5 guard from Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., will visit UD on Oct. 1, according to Julius Kim, of Phenom Hoops.
• Sean Mobley, a 6-9 forward from Melbourne, Fla., and Montverde Academy, will visit UD on Oct. 14, according to multiple reports.
• Darryl Morsell, a 6-4 guard from Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore, will visit UD on Oct. 21, according to 247Sports.