Updated: Jul 31, 2020
The 2022 high school class has some impressive depth, with Kijani Wright landing near the top of the pack. The rising junior has formed an impressive duo with fellow 2022 Dylan Andrews at Windward School (CA), with the entire Pac-12 seeming to be working for their services. On top of Power-5 schools on the west coast, Wright holds offers from Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt, among others. At nearly 6’9” and 220 pounds, Wright has been part of a lot of winning at the high school level thus far and was also part of the gold medal-winning USA team at the U16 FIBA Americas, last June.
What immediately stands out about Wright is his impressive frame, as he appears to be physically prepared to play in college right now. He has some post polish, with an ambidextrous finishing ability, yet he’s also able to face-up for the long range shot or attack a close out. With his ability to put the ball on the floor, he also is adept at finding teammates on the perimeter and is an intuitive offensive rebounder. Defensively, while he is most comfortable defending the post, he’s also flashed some agility which allows him to switch out on the perimeter in a pinch.
Playing on the adidas circuit for Compton Magic, Wright has made consistent strides in his game over the last few years as he has grown into his body and developed his skillset. While center seems to be his position of comfort at this point, he projects as a combination big in college and shows many early signs of fitting well into a team setting. His recruitment will only continue to heat up as he has been hovering near the top of the national rankings for the class of 2022 for quite some time. With his introspective approach, Wright seems to be watching very relevant players and taking the right steps in his training towards his goal of playing professional basketball.
In this interview, Wright talks about his basketball roots, what he has been working on during the current COVID-19 pandemic, a glimpse at his training regimen, his experience with both Compton Magic and USA Basketball, plus much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Kijani Wright, from Los Angeles, California:
Pro Insight: Talk about your background and your story.
KW: Well I’m an LA kid so I’ve always been in Southern California. I grew up here. I guess basketball has always been there — ever since I was little I wanted to get on the blacktop. Always wanted to play with the older teenagers at the Boys and Girls Club. Always wanted to play and get in runs. I feel like I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder and just wanted to compete. I’ve always been a competitor so being able to play basketball is a way of expressing myself.
PI: What’s your family background?
KW: I have one brother and I live with my mom and my brother right now.
PI: Do any of your siblings or family play sports?
KW: My mom doesn’t play sports. My brother used to run track, but I’m the only one who plays basketball in the family. My dad used to play ball in high school, but he also stopped so I’m the only one left.
PI: Any extended family members play sports collegiately or professionally?
KW: No, not that I know of.
PI: Do you or did you play any other sports?
KW: This is all with the Boys and Girls Club that I went to, but I played soccer and I tried a little baseball. Played some flag football in middle school. I also played volleyball. I played volleyball at Windward and that’s pretty much about it. I played volleyball in middle school, but stopped my freshman year. I was the middle hitter and blocker — I would be there to block the ball when it was going over the net, that was my role. Volleyball did help my athleticism when I wasn’t playing basketball, it definitely helped my vert.
PI: When did you transition over to full time basketball?
KW: Ever since I can remember, I don’t really have a story where my dad put the ball in my hands, but I guess in early elementary school I started playing basketball and I fell in love with it. I don’t really have a story about how basketball came to me, but it’s always been there and I just fell in love with it.
PI: What made you fall in love with basketball?
KW: Everything, just competing...being able to play against another opponent and wanting to win, because I’m a huge competitor that’s been my drive when I’m playing. Ever since I started loving the game I’ve kept that winning attitude and competitiveness.
PI: For those who aren’t super familiar with your game, what are some of your greatest strengths?
KW: I grew up as a center being pretty tall so I’d always be in the low post, but now I can stretch out to the 3 or 4. I play inside and out, so I’d say back to the basket, but also facing up and the mid-post is kind of my strength.
PI: What about some things you still need to work on?
KW: Definitely getting low, getting low when I’m dribbling the ball. Definitely ball-handling and then consistently shooting the ball — having a consistent stroke. Mid-range, three-pointers, extending my range so that’s always going to be something I need to improve on.
PI: From what Pro Insight has seen, you’re also a pretty underrated passer — where do some of those instincts come from?
KW: Yeah I don’t even know where that came from, but I enjoy passing the ball and facilitating. I see LeBron and he’s throwing the ball full court; Kevin Love throwing the ball full court. I didn’t really realize that I was doing the exact same thing — if I saw an open man I’d just pass it to him. The high-low pass from the high post is something I did last year, as well. I love passing the ball and facilitating for my teammates.