Senior Ethan Wright rapidly dribbles down the court after a turnover in the final seconds of a boys’ varsity basketball game against Needham. Reaching the hoop, he explosively leaps up and throws down a two-handed slam, electrifying the crowd.
Winning the Bay State Conference Most Valuable Player award as a sophomore, Wright has also been on one of the All-State teams three times and was selected last year for The Boston Herald’s Dream Team. He is currently co-captain of boys’ varsity basketball, along with seniors Thomas Byrne and Noah Neville. In January, Wright was nominated as one of the top 250 high school players in the country for the McDonald’s All-American Game.
Wright will be attending Princeton University this fall, after receiving offers from seven other Division I programs—the highest level of collegiate basketball. He cited Princeton’s renowned coaching staff and “prestigious” basketball history as two central determining factors in his choice. With his decision, Wright became one of the few North basketball alumni, along with Anthony Gurley and Corey Lowe, ’06, to commit to a Division I program.
His mother, who also played at Princeton, introduced the game to him. “I’ve been playing for as long as I can remember,” he explained. Although he had always dreamed of playing in college, it “really didn’t become a possibility until later.”
In fifth grade, he decided to join the Bay State Jaguars, a local American Athletic Union (AAU) team. As he grew older, his ambition developed, and during his freshman year he joined the New England Playaz, another regional AAU club. The shift to the Playaz “took it up a level,” Wright explained, and elevated the intensity of the competition. The team traveled the country frequently, Wright said, providing him with extensive exposure and paving the way to his future in college basketball.
While competing for the Playaz, Wright played “comfortably” and held his own, beginning to recognize the true potential of his dream. He realized that he could play “at the next level” and thus “wanted to be committed to this goal of playing in college,” he explained.
Wright has experienced similar success playing on North’s team, which he joined as a freshman. He explained that although he was “really nervous” during his varsity debut, the team’s victory over Catholic Memorial in double overtime later on during his freshman year boosted his confidence, describing it as one of his fondest moments.
“He’s grown immensely since his freshman year,” special education teacher Paul Connolly, who coaches boys’ varsity basketball, said similarly. “He’s got a great ability to score the basketball in many different ways, he makes his teammates better, he’s coachable, so he has all the attributes a coach looks for in a basketball player.”
Wright’s success on the court, however, has complicated the balance between basketball, academics, and his social life, he noted. “Getting enough sleep has been tough,” Wright explained. “There have been some late nights doing homework after school, which has definitely been a struggle.”
Nonetheless, Wright added that he tries to remain organized, planning his work day-by-day and week-by-week. “I know what to do and when to do it by,” he explained. “If I have practice at this time, then I’ll try to work first, or plan on doing it later,” he added. Doing so, Wright explained, has kept his workload manageable.
Connolly confirmed the value of Wright’s work ethic. “He puts in the time. He works on his skills, his body, his academics,” he explained. “He’s on top of things.”
Wright explained that past leaders on the team and at home have driven much of this push to succeed on and off the court. Wright described his mother as one of his most significant role models. “She has taught me most of what I know and is constantly helping me out,” he said.
Wright also noted that Connolly has also played a prominent role in motivating him to succeed. “He’s always helping me out and telling me what to do,” he explained.
He has also taken inspiration from North basketball alumni, who served as his role models during his early years on the team. “They helped me out and taught me the ropes when I was younger and when I was the underclassman,” he explained. “Those guys have always been role models to me.”
Wright has even become a similar mentor for today’s underclassmen, Connolly noted. “He’s someone that the kids look up to, and I’ve got some young kids that are really talented right now that he’s a real beacon for,” he said. “He’s been a terrific leader for us for the last four years.”
For his last year at North, Wright aims to win a state championship, hoping that the team will play their “brand of basketball” more consistently in the process.
“Coach always says, ‘The scoreboard is the scoreboard, but we need to play the right way if we want to win,’” Wright explained. “We’re getting better and better at that, though, so I think that we’re primed for a deep playoff run.”
Wright explained that he hopes to advance his basketball skills even further at Princeton. “Playing against guys in practice and against high-level competitors with great coaches will hopefully help me mature as a person and a player,” he said.
Ultimately, Connolly noted that Wright’s future appears promising. “He continues to get better and better. We’ve seen it since his freshman year: he’s developed, he’s gone from coming off the bench to starting and covering the opponents’ best player,” he said. “His best basketball days are ahead of him.”