On one level, Jordan Wright’s senior season was a disappointment: his production dropped across the board from his junior year. He went from averaging 12.3 ppg and 6.4 rpg as a junior to 10.6 and 5.1 as a senior, his shooting percentages dropped, his minutes dropped, and he lost his spot in the starting lineup in mid-December and didn’t really get it back until the end of the season.
But oh, did he redeem himself late in the season. Early on, Jerry Stackhouse tried having Wright — who’d been second banana to Scotty Pippen Jr. for the previous two years (and, really, third banana behind Pippen and Dylan Disu in 2020-21) — be the focal point of the offense; Wright attempted 18 shots in a win at Temple and 17 in a loss to St. Mary’s. It just wasn’t going well, like, at all, and after combining to score two points against Fresno State and VCU, Wright was out of the starting lineup. He briefly regained his spot after thriving in a bench role; but after getting pulled again just ahead of the 101-44 debacle at Alabama, Wright went into a funk for about a month: over an eight-game stretch, he scored a grand total of 37 points. It was one of those stretches where you wondered if a senior was just going into DGAF mode, if perhaps he was mentally checking out and planning to move on after the season.
Except, a funny thing happened: Vanderbilt went 6-2 over that stretch of games. As Ezra Manjon and Tyrin Lawrence picked up steam, Wright got to move back into the complementary role he’d played a season before — and he dropped 23 points, including the game-winner, in a win at Kentucky, Vanderbilt’s third win ever in that house of horrors that opened in 1976. He followed that up by scoring 19 against Mississippi State on Senior Night, and 50 points in Vanderbilt’s three SEC Tournament games.
The end of the season was great, but we have to consider the full context of the season; overall, this still feels like a disappointment. Even more disappointing, he’ll be playing for LSU next year. A weird artifact of the COVID bonus-year/transfer portal era is that a guy who we’d normally remember as a four-year player who finished his career with 1182 points — good for 39th all-time on Vanderbilt’s career scoring list and ahead of guys like Mario Moore, Luke Kornet, and Perry Wallace — will have a weird year where he’s playing for a conference rival.