Eric Peterson, Published January 29 2014
NDSU could have five players eclipse 1,000 career points by end of season
While his high-flying dunks grab attention, it’s the work that goes unseen that has made North Dakota State senior TrayVonn Wright a more complete offensive player.
“He’s a kid who has put in a lot of time and a lot of time without the coaching staff around,” Bison head men’s basketball coach Saul Phillips said. “It doesn’t happen by accident.”
A more consistent jump shot is one of the reasons Wright is shooting a career-best 51 percent from the field this season. The 6-foot-7 forward has 981 career points heading into tonight’s game at the University of South Dakota.
“The development of his jump shot has allowed him to become a 1,000-point scorer,” Phillips said of Wright closing in on the milestone.
Scoring 1,000 points isn’t a very exclusive club on this year’s Bison team.
Seniors Taylor Braun and Marshall Bjorklund have already eclipsed that career mark. Wright, junior Lawrence Alexander (976 points) and senior Mike Felt (952 points) are all likely to get there by the end of the season.
“All those guys, who are on the verge of 1,000 points, have spent many, many hours in this place when no one else was around and no one else was watching,” Phillips said.
According to research done by the NDSU sports information department, having five 1,000-point scorers on the same NCAA Division I team is rare.
Alabama had five players surpass 1,000 points in 1986-87, but two of the five were transfers who had scored the majority of their points at other schools.
East Tennessee State had five 1,000-point scorers in 1990-91, but one of those five was hurt early in the season, and was on the bench when a few of the other players hit 1,000.
That means NDSU could become the first D-I team with five active players with 1,000 points who scored all those points at one school.
“It takes a lot of games played to get to that point,” Phillips said. “It takes unselfishness, too. We don’t have a guy who is ball dominant like a lot of teams do. The ball moves around.”
Wright is shooting 38 percent (23 of 61) from 3-point range this season, a career-best percentage from beyond the arc.
Wright said the offseason work on his outside shot has given him confidence in season. He also said playing with other talented offensive players, like Bjorklund and Braun, helps him get open shots.
“Now coach wants me to shoot more and score more,” Wright said. “I didn’t plan on scoring like I am right now. … If you’re open it’s just automatic. Sometimes even if you’re not open, you see if you can get one in.”
The Bison have also been efficient. The team is shooting 51.6 percent from the field, averaging 79.8 points per game. NDSU leads Division I in team field goal percentage, just ahead of Gonzaga, which played Wednesday night.
Bjorklund is among the top players in the country in field goal percentage at 65.4 percent.
“We just take good shots from within our offense,” Wright said. “We don’t try to force anything or do anything crazy.”
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