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Men’s Basketball: Wright finalist for Driesell Award

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, March 30, 2015



UL Ragin’ Cajuns guard Jay Wright (1) looks to pass the ball during the men’s semifinal game against Georgia State in the Sun Belt Conference Championship tournament March 14.(Photo: Paul Kieu/The Advertiser)


UL sophomore point guard Jay Wright was named Monday as one of 26 finalists for the Lefty Driesell Award, which is presented by CollegeInsider.com to the nation’s top NCAA Division I defensive player.

It’s the same honor that ex-Ragin’ Cajuns point guard Elfrid Payton, the No. 10 overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft and now with the Orlando Magic, won in 2014.

Finalists for the award are recognized by the website as Lefty Driesell Defensive All-Americans.

“We felt like he was the best defensive player in the (Sun Belt Conference),” Marlin said.

Marlin also said Monday that Wright has been asked to play on a Sports Reach team that will tour the Far East in May, much like Payton did following his sophomore season at UL.

Sports Reach is a Christian sports ministry program that travels teams throughout the world.

“Last time we sent a point guard, they (Sports Reach officials) were very happy,” Marlin said. “It really helped Elfrid. … It could be a great opportunity for Jay.”

The Driesell award is named to the former college coach who is only person to win 100 games at four different Division I programs, a feat that includes his 348 victories at Maryland.

It will be presented Sunday in Indianapolis, where the Final Four is being held this year.

Other finalists this year include Jelani Hewitt of fellow Sun Belt-member Georgia Southern, LSU’s Jordan Mickey and Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein.

Hewitt was named SBC Defensive Player of the Year.

Wright – a native of Rincon, Ga., and a transfer to UL from Casper College in Wyoming – averaged 9.1 points, 3.6 assists and 0.89 steals for the 22-14 Cajuns.

He was named a third-team All-Sun Belt pick, and hit the game-winning 3-point with 0.9 seconds left in UL’s CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) win over Sam Houston State earlier this month.

UL’s season ended with a CIT quarterfinal-round loss to Evansville last Thursday night.

Also Monday, Marlin said he planned to meet later the same day with redshirt junior big man Shawn Long and his family regarding the Morgan City High’s pending decision on whether to turn pro or return for his senior season.

Sun Belt-champ Georgia State, meanwhile, announced Monday that junior R.J. Hunter has declared his early eligibility for the June NBA Draft.

“Shawn will make a decision in the future on that,” Marlin said.