LAS VEGAS – When he was at Hofstra, Justin Wright-Foreman was the two-time Colonial Athletic Association player of the year, and he ranked second in NCAA scoring his senior year with a 27.1 scoring average. But in the NBA Summer League the No. 53 overall draft pick is just another guy learning the ropes and no longer the big man on campus.
The Utah Jazz liked him enough to invest an actual draft pick, but they know he’s undersized at 6-2 to play the shooting guard position and are in the early stages of trying to turn him into a point guard. It’s a work in progress after four Summer League games, two in Utah and two in Las Vegas.
Asked by the Jazz beat writers after a loss to the Heat on Sunday who he sees on film, Wright-Foreman said, "I see a changed person. I see somebody who is growing and wants to learn. My job is just to be a sponge and whatever they need me to do, whether it’s to be a hawk on defense, which I’ve been trying to do, I’m going to just do so.”
No one could be more earnest or dedicated to learning his craft than Wright-Foreman. He’s all business, and he’s practicing what Hofstra assistant coach Speedy Claxton, who had the most successful NBA career of any Hofstra graduate, advised him to do.
“I just have to handle it like a professional,” Wright-Foreman said. “I’m at this level. I’m a professional now, so I have to carry myself a certain way and learn the game. I talk to all the guys here, some of the pros here. They’ve been giving me good advice to handle the situation.”
The early going has been a bit of a struggle for a player who is used to being a volume scorer. Wright-Foreman’s shooting touch has been off. Through four games, he has made only 16 of 48 shots, including only four of 17 from three-point range, while averaging 11.8 points. He had one 20-point performance in the second game in Utah but has scored an average of just 9.0 per game in his other three contests while averaging 3.0 turnovers at his new position.
Describing his shooting troubles to Newsday, Wright-Foreman said, “I have to adjust to the length of everybody here and adjust to the speed of the game. I’m going to get used to it. I’ve just got to keep working, keep putting the work in, and I’ll be fine.
“At Hofstra, I played the two and I wasn’t on the ball as much as I should have been. But I’m willing to adjust to whatever they need me to do, and if it’s playmaking, I’ll make the right reads. I’m just learning and growing in this position.”
The good thing for Wright-Foreman is that he knows the Jazz made an investment in him when they drafted him in the second round. So, he’s going to get a fair chance, and if nothing else, he can look forward to the opportunity to prove himself with their G League team or possibly even getting a two-way contract that would allow him to float back and forth between the G League and the NBA roster.
“It’s a blessing just to be able to be drafted and just to be around these guys, a great group of guys,” Wright-Foreman said. “They’ve been helping me with this process a lot, keeping me composed and just helping me adjust to the game as well. For them to invest a draft pick in me means a lot. It means my game has elevated to another level.”
When he reflects on his Hofstra career, Wright-Foreman can’t help but feel a sense of pride over what he accomplished and how it prepared him for the NBA. “Nothing was ever given to me,” Wright-Foreman said. “I had to earn everything I ever got, and I put in extra hours in the gym. I believe in myself, and I have the utmost confidence in myself that I belong here.”