Marquis Wright is a professional basketball player currently playing for Denain ASC Voltaire in France. Wright plays in the LNB Pro B, commonly known as Pro B, which is the 2nd-tier level men’s professional basketball league in France. He is a successful professional athlete, but it did not happen overnight. This article is the second of a three-part series documenting the rise of Marquis Wright. We’ll discuss his high school career, life as a Division I athlete, and the lifestyle of being a professional basketball player overseas.
Part 2: Siena College
Wright committed to Loyola University (MD), where Jimmy Patsos was the Head Coach. Patsos gets a new coaching position at Siena College, and Wright follows him to upstate New York.
“There were no other options on the table. I definitely could’ve taken a trip to Maryland, which was one of my dream schools. I was told I can take a visit, but I have to obtain my release papers from Loyola before I can visit. I don’t know what happened; I’m in the process of getting my release papers from Loyola and Maryland offers a scholarship to someone else. You [Maryland] know I’m in the process of obtaining my release papers. Why can’t I take a visit? I feel like there were a lot of [NCAA] concerns with that situation.”
After that, Wright did not have any other routes, but Patsos gave Wright an offer at Siena. Wright took an unofficial visit and decided to enroll at Siena College.
“This is my first time being on my own, and the first time I had to manage my time for basketball and school. In high school, the assignments were short and easy, but college was a different beast—certain classes, I couldn’t take because of my practice schedule. As basketball players, we could only take four classes a semester and we had to take summer classes to keep us on track to graduate on time. On top of practices and classes, you’re also traveling for road games. It’s not what people think. People think we’re just playing basketball, we’re athletes, and we get special treatment, but that’s not the case. You have to complete your work on the road without help from professors, or you won’t be playing because you’re failing. To me, it felt like having two full-time jobs.”
Wright explained to us the difference between high school and college on the court.
“It was a major adjustment getting to know all new players. When you’re older, it’s difficult to build chemistry with certain players you don’t know because we all have our own egos. In high school, you’ve probably known your teammates for 3-4 years and sometimes longer. In college, we’re building that comradery from scratch”.
The Siena Saints were invited to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) tournament, but they almost decided to end their season early.
“Some of the team didn’t want to play in the CBI because it wasn’t the NCAA tournament or the NIT, but we came together as a team and made the decision to play postseason basketball”.
The Siena Saints made it to the championship series (2 out of 3) versus Fresno State. The first game was in Fresno, CA.
“I never traveled that far in my life, and it felt like a mini-vacation. Coach Patsos was a big advocate for getting his players out of their comfort zone and experiencing different cultures and atmospheres”.
The Saints won the College Basketball Invitational Championship in three games to finish their season.
Team Record: 20-18; CBI Tournament Champions
Season Statistics: 8.7 PPG 3.9 RPG 5.2 APG (2nd in MAAC) 1.7 SPG
- 2013-14 Kyle Macy Freshmen All-American Team
- Siena College Male Rookie of the Year
- MAAC All-Rookie Team selection
- Three-time MAAC Rookie of the Week
- 199 assists tied for 4th most in program history (2nd among first-year students)
Wright didn’t go through a sophomore slump, but the team as a whole did.
“There was a lot of change. We had 4 members on our team [players and coaches] leave [some in the season] because of off the court issues. We had a good team, but those issues impacted our on the court performance. That year was by far our worst season as a team”.
Team Record: 11-20
Season Statistics: 12.5 PPG 4.2 RPG 5.1 APG (1st in MAAC) 2.0 SPG (2nd in MAAC)
- Doc Marcelle (team) Most Valuable Player Award
- Only Saint to start all 31 games
- Scored career-high 31 points and made 12-15 shots in 69-67 loss at Fordham
- Reached double figures in 21 games
Junior Year 2015-16
“This year was one of my most heartbroken years I’ve played in my career. I told one of my assistant coaches I was going for MAAC Player of the Year before the season started”.
Wright was on a mission and showcased his talent to the nation versus 5th ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“Duke was one of the greatest venues I ever played in. On TV, the arena looks bigger than what it is, but it is very small and it’s packed. The experience on and off the court was great. That was my first time on a charter flight, I didn’t have to wait in line or go through security, we got to eat on the flight, and I got my own seat with more than enough room. We played against Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, and Brandon Ingram. I picked up 2 early fouls, so I sat most of the 1st half. I picked up my 3rd foul with 18 minutes left in the 2nd half. I took a clean charge, but it was Grayson Allen, in Cameron Indoor Stadium, so they called a block.”
Wright finished with 20 points, five assists, seven rebounds, and three steals.
“I only played 25 minutes. Just imagine if I played the whole game. Who knows what could’ve happened?”
Wright is having a career season, but a nagging foot injury puts his player of the year bid on hold.
“During the season, my foot was bothering me. I could play on it but if I make a particular cut or turn on that foot, it would hurt for the rest of the day. Then for the next 3 to 4 days, I wouldn’t feel any pain. It was very odd. “
Wright continues to explain the timeline of his foot injury and how it progresses to more than a nagging injury.
“It’s Tuesday, December 22nd, and we’re playing St. Bonaventure. There was 3 seconds left in the first half and we were on defense, I chased a guy around a screen, I planted my foot to change direction and my foot turned harder than usual. I’ve been dealing with this foot pain for most of the season, but this is the worst pain I have ever felt. I went to the trainer during halftime, and he taped my foot all the way down to my toes so I couldn’t bend it.”
Wright played the 2nd half and went on to finish with 20 points, ten assists, 38 minutes played, and a Siena Saints win.
The game was on Tuesday, December 22nd. Wright goes home for winter break and returns Saturday, December 26th, for practice. The trainer told him to ice his foot before practice, and he should be good to go if it were that simple.
“10 minutes into practice, I pass the ball, go to set a screen, and my foot gave out. I heard it crack. I get up; I’m limping in the middle of a drill, and my coach tells me to sit down. I’m on the bench looking down, and my foot was so swollen, you can see it through my shoe. The trainer takes one look at it and suggests that I go to the hospital. Now I’m in the hospital, in a wheelchair hoping my foot is not broken. The doctor told me I broke my foot. I fractured my fifth metatarsal in my right foot.”
Wright was projected to be out for the rest of the season. At that time, Wright was averaging 17 points, four assists, and five rebounds. Wright and Ben Simmons were the only players averaging those numbers in the nation.
Wright comes back three games before the MAAC tournament, but his minutes were limited.
The Siena Saints lost in the MAAC Semifinals and lost in the first round of the CBI Tournament.
Team Record: 21-13
Season Statistics: 14.5 PPG 4.4 RPG 4.9 APG 1.8 SPG
- Led team in scoring (17.3), assists (4.6), steals (2.1) and three-point field goal percentage (.548) before missing 15 games in the middle of the season with a foot injury.
- Dished out 93 assists, averaging team-best 4.9 assists per game
- Posted five 20-point performances
- Shot 44.1% from three-point range after having shot a combined 24.1% over his first two seasons
Senior Year 2016-17
Early in the season, Siena is on the road again versus blue blood. The Saints travel to Lawrence, KS to play the 7th ranked Kansas Jayhawks featuring Frank Mason III, Devonte’ Graham, and Josh Jackson. Wright finished the game with 25 points and five assists.
The Siena Saints hovered around .500 the whole year, but Wright wasn’t disappointed in his team and their effort.
“We win a game, and then we lose a game. Our record wasn’t the best, but as a team, our fight was there. We had 5 seniors and we all came into college together. No matter what, we always played for each other.”
Wright explains his MAAC tournament run and his final chance at an NCAA Tournament bid.
We beat Fairfield in the first round. In the MAAC Final Four, we played Monmouth. At one point, we’re losing by 18. Nico Clareth went off in the second half. He went 7-8 from 3 and powered us to the MAAC Finals. Now we’re playing at home for the MAAC Final vs. Iona. It was such a loud atmosphere, but it didn’t feel like a home game. Nothing was the same. They changed the floor, the baskets, and made us switch locker rooms. None of that stuff matters but you do notice it. The game was back and forth. Every time we score, they score and vice versa.
Towards the end of the game, I’m saying every time they score, I score. In overtime, we’re down two, and I don’t take the last shot. I passed the ball because it was the right basketball play and I was expecting it back, but that didn’t happen. We missed the chance, and we’re forced to foul. They made both free throws, and now we’re down 4. They passed me the ball, I barely pass half court and I shoot it. Once I released it, I’m saying to myself, ‘that’s going in.’ I made the final basket, hit the floor, and burst into tears. If I shot the ball instead of passing, who knows what could’ve happened? We probably would’ve won. But I didn’t pull it. I end up making that last shot to put us down 1 with no time left on the clock. That was one of the hardest games to take in during my college career. It was my last day as an amateur basketball player”.
Team Record: 17-17
Season Statistics: 16.8 PPG 4.2 RPG 5.0 APG 1.8 SPG
- Led team in scoring and assists
- Dished out 165 assists
- Posted ten 20-point performances
- NABC District I Second Team
- All MAAC Second Team
- Held the school record for most games played in one season, totaling in 38 games
- 10th in school history with 1,546 points
- 3rd in school history with 614 assists
- 5th in school history with 199 steals
Next week, we will dive into Wright’s professional career as a full-time basketball player.