LAWTON — The period of uncertainty between the firing of Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik and the hiring of new coach Danny Manning brought some tense times for Golden Hurricane signee D'Andre Wright.
But the Manning hire couldn't have been a much better fit for the Lawton Eisenhower big man.
Wright's skill set essentially was cut from the same cloth as Manning's, who used it to produce a long, successful NBA career.
“I don't remember ever seeing him play, but I've seen a couple clips on YouTube,” said Wright, a member of The Oklahoman's Super 5 team. “He played similar to what I do, a mismatch forward who can shoot and post up.
“I know he was a great player and he's done a good job coaching big men, so I know he'll be about to prepare me for the next level.”
Wright averaged 17.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in guiding Lawton Ike to the Class 6A state tournament for the first time since 2007, and he knows his game has plenty of room to grow.
He lost all of his junior season to a broken leg, which slowed his progress as a player, and kept him off the radar for colleges. But he was able to get some exposure on the AAU circuit and pick up the attention from Tulsa.
Now, he's focused on preparing for the college game, where he hopes his combination of size and athletic ability will benefit him.
“Coaches see me as a mismatch forward,” Wright said. “When I've got a bigger player on me, I can take him from the outside, and smaller guys, I can post up. I think I'll be a face-up forward, step out and shoot it some.”
That versatility is what makes him valuable, and he's focused on developing both aspects of his game further.
And he's glad he was able to experience a state tournament before he left Lawton Ike, despite the first round loss to eventual champion Tulsa Union.
“I had never experienced it, and it felt great,” he said. “It was definitely an accomplishment to make it that far. The city was behind us. We definitely enjoyed it.”