Georgia Tech star Moses Wright leaving for the NBA

Georgia Tech's Moses Wright (5) hangs on the basket after dunking the ball on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.  (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Georgia Tech's Moses Wright (5) hangs on the basket after dunking the ball on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Georgia Tech forward Moses Wright has made his decision to turn professional and leave college basketball behind, making the announcement Wednesday night from his Instagram account. The ACC player of the year makes his jump with the support of coach Josh Pastner.

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“It’s always hard to (make the transition) whether you go from high school to college or college to the NBA, but if anyone is ready to play in the NBA, it’s Moses Wright,” Pastner told the AJC.

Wright’s announcement was not the most expansive communication. The post, accompanied by a short highlight video, was titled “The Next Chapter” and he added “Farewell GT” with one emoji of a hand making a peace sign and another of a yellow jacket.

Pastner did acknowledge that the door is still open for Wright to return. Should he not get selected, Wright would still be able to return to Tech, so long as he took part in the combine and, if he signed with an agent, it was one certified by the NCAA. Further, Wright would not count against the 13-scholarship maximum, so Pastner doesn’t have to worry about keeping his scholarship open.

“There’s probably a good chance if he wanted to come back, it’d be hard for him to lose his starting spot,” Pastner said.

But, Pastner said, he is proceeding with the expectation that Wright will not return. Where Pastner said that guard Jose Alvarado is still up in the air with his decision, “I think for Moses, I think he’s closer to staying in the draft than coming back.”

Pastner’s thinking is guided by his confidence that Wright will be invited to the NBA draft combine and ultimately drafted. He said he was basing his perspective on both conversations with NBA scouts and also his belief that Wright will improve his draft stock through his performance at the combine and in private workouts.

“I don’t think people realize how talented he is, and he’s just scratching the surface,” Pastner said.

Tech fans witnessed Wright’s dramatic development over his four seasons with the Jackets. Wright arrived at Tech as a lowly-rated prospect and late in his freshman season was so unproductive that Pastner put him in a program to focus on his skill and strength development at the cost of being fully ready for games. Further, his effort and commitment level were lacking.

Georgia Tech's Moses Wright and coach Josh Pastner smile before their game against Syracuse on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Georgia Tech's Moses Wright and coach Josh Pastner smile before their game against Syracuse on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

By the time he was a senior, Wright was indispensable. Fierce and active on the glass, possessed of a soft scoring touch and playing with an undeniable drive, Wright ranked in the top six in the ACC in scoring, rebounds, field-goal percentage, steals, blocked shots, offensive rebounds and minutes. He was a runaway choice for ACC player of the year, the first from Tech since Dennis Scott in 1990.

“He dominated guys,” Pastner said. “He didn’t just play well; he dominated. We’re not talking about some lowly conference. We’re talking about the premier, elite conference of college basketball that he was the player of the year.”

“It’s like, night and day, honestly, coming this far and getting ACC player of the year,” Wright said at the time of his selection. “I don’t know how many people can actually say that. They didn’t play their freshman year, barely played sophomore year, then senior year, named ACC player of the year and first-team, defensive team and all that. This is an amazing feeling. I feel like I accomplished so much and there’s just so much more out there for me to accomplish, too.”

Wright’s season ended disappointingly, though, by his positive COVID-19 test after the Jackets won the ACC championship, which left him unable to play in Tech’s first NCAA Tournament game since 2010. Without Wright, the Jackets lost to Loyola Chicago in the first round.

While Wright’s draft candidacy has not gained much traction in the realm of mock drafts at this point, former Tech star Josh Okogie was similarly below the radar until a standout performance at the combine after he declared for the draft following the 2017-18 season.

“I think he’s more than deserving to be in the first round,” Pastner said of Wright. “I think a lot of that will be determined by what he does in workouts and what he does in Chicago (at the combine).”

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