Joel Wright is on the move again.
The former Thomas Jefferson star and Manhattan College commit parted ways amicably and now Wright, who said he is qualified academically after spending a postgraduate year at Central Carolina Sports Academy (N.C.) and CJEOTO Academy (N.J.) is again looking for a new school. He committed to Fordham University his senior year at Jefferson, but decommitted in December after Dereck Whittenburg was fired.
“I’m gonna see what schools call, take a few quick visits, and I’ll pick the best situation,” he said. “I regret decommitting from two schools; I’m a loyal guy. It makes me look bad. I’m a hard-working kid.”
Thomas Jefferson coach Lawrence Pollard acknowledged there are red flags regarding the talented Wright, a 6-foot-5 small forward who averaged 23 points and 17 rebounds per game for the Orange Wave in 2009. He has decommitted from two schools and battled technical foul problems in high school. Of course, the coach added, he left Fordham after the coach who recruited him was let go — a common occurrence — and the issue at Manhattan isn’t cut and dry.
“He’s worth the risk,” Pollard said. “Off the court, he does his work, he gets along with everybody socially.”
Pollard said Wright, nicknamed “Air Jamaica” because of his leaping ability and native country, was all set to attend Manhattan before his uncle, who asked not to be identified, interceded. Wright praised his uncle, who is involved in his recruiting, for helping him handle adversity and get his grades right.
Wright said he was asked to sign his National Letter of Intent before he qualified academically, which he wasn’t comfortable doing. When he did qualify, Wright said he was told there were no scholarships remaining for the upcoming year.
Pollard said he has fielded calls from Hofstra, Marist and Siena so far and Wright said Robert Morris called him, too.
“He’s a high-level talent that can make a big impact at the mid-major level,” one assistant coach familiar with Wright said.
Wright will feel better when the situation is resolved. He feels he has been painted in a bad light, that there were schools who backed off because they doubted he wouldn’t qualify.
“I have to move forward,” he said. “I’m not gonna let it stop me from doing anything.”