Robert Morris' Wright Jr. hopes to live up to father's standards on the court
Lorenzen Wright Jr.'s name might sound familiar. He shares the moniker with his late father, who played 13 seasons in the NBA.
And while many might consider the name a burden when trying to succeed in the same sport, Wright views it as incentive to be better.
“I play with a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I always want to represent my name right. I want to make sure my dad's name looks good, so you know I'm going to play hard. I'm going to work hard, and I'm going to represent myself the best way I can.”
His father spent much of his career playing for the Memphis Grizzlies in a town where he also played high school and college basketball. He was murdered in 2010, and the case remains unsolved.
The younger Wright will be a junior at Robert Morris this season after transferring from Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis. His desire to reach the NBA, despite Robert Morris being his third college team in three years, comes from his father's example.
“My dad, he's my role model. He's big time,” Wright said. “Going to all the games, seeing all the great players play, it was big for me. It just gave me inspiration to play the game and work hard to get to the level he was on.”
Wright, a guard, already is laying the groundwork. He has had solid performances in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am summer league for local college and professional players. With about a minute to play in his first game, Wright had a steal that helped set up his winning 3-pointer.
This opportunity to play at a Division I school is something his actions and words have shown he is ready to take advantage of.
“That's all I've wanted to do my whole life. It's all I've done since I was 8 years old, play ball,” Wright said. “(Playing in Division I) has been one of my dreams other than going to the NBA. This is a big step for me, going from community college to D1.”
Colonials coach Andy Toole said Wright's experience and upbringing will benefit him on and off the court.
“He's been around good players and high levels of basketball. We are hopeful that will translate into positives for our program because obviously you get thrown into different situations,” Toole said. “If you have experience being around the game and seeing the game at all different levels, that can help your understanding.”
While Wright hasn't had much time to adjust to his new team, he expects to fit in well. Finding his place in Toole's system might not pose the biggest challenge.
“This is my first time being in Pittsburgh,” he said. “I used to go to school in Cincinnati. My dad used to play for Cleveland, so we lived out there. But Pittsburgh is way different. I'm ready to see how the winter is going to be.”