The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

April 17, 2014

Former Red Devil star realizing dream of playing D-I basketball

Kalif Wright signs with Miami (Ohio) University

When former Oak Hill High School standout Kalif Wright was a kid, he would play EA Sports’ NCAA March Madness video games and dream of one day getting a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.

Now Wright is one step closer to his goal.

The 2011 Evans Award runner-up has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball at the Division I level, joining Miami (OH) of the Mid American Conference. Wright transfers to the Oxford, Ohio school after spending the last two seasons at Kilgore College in Texas. He will begin playing next season and has two years of eligibility remaining.

“We are very excited to have Kalif joining our program,” Miami coach John Cooper stated in a press release issued by the university. “He’s coming from a winning program that has won nearly 60 games over the last two years and played in the Junior College National Championship two years ago.”

During his time at Oak Hill, Wright helped lead the Red Devils to consecutive Class AA championships in 2010 and 2011. As a senior, he averaged 24.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Upon his exit from Oak Hill, he was the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,690 career points.

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound power forward feels his time with Kilgore helped him tremendously in his quest for D-I playing time. He averaged 10.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 55.3 percent from the field.

 “Down here in Texas it helped me mature a lot,” Wright said. “Like, I’ve grown up a lot since I’ve been here. I’ve got better. It was worth it.”

Wright was recruited by Cooper throughout the season, and joined his family in Oak Hill recently for a visit. Wright traveled to Oxford in December and fell in love with the campus. He’s hoping to help the Redhawks make their first tourney appearance since 2007. Last year, Miami finished 13-18, losing to Ohio University in the second round of the MAC tournament.

“That’s why I came to Miami,” Wright said. “I think they’re just a couple more pieces away from making the tournament, and I think I can help them be a contender in he MAC. I have a lot of faith in the program.”

Miami, which plays its home games at Millett Hall, has reached the Sweet Sixteen on four difference occasions and has been crowned the MAC champion 20 times.

Wright will join 6-8 Logan McLane, 6-2 Zach McCormick and 6-7 Roderick Mills in this year’s Redhawks recruiting class.

— E-mail: jrollins and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.

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