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Wright signs to play basketball in Austria

FARGO — TrayVonn Wright came to North Dakota State in the fall of 2010 as a raw, unproven talent. After touring the country with the Bison for four years, he’s heading on to more worldly things — like pro basketball in Austria.

The former Bison forward signed a contract this week with Wels in the Austria Basketball League. He leaves in August to a league that at the least gives him a shot to make a living in basketball.

“I’ll probably be more excited and nervous once I get on a plane for seven hours to fly to a different country,” Wright said. “Right now, I have a lot of stuff to take care of before I go.”

He’s the second former NDSU player to sign with an Austrian team in recent years. Guard Mike Nelson played in the same league after finishing his Bison career in 2009.

He gives the 6-foot-7 Wright two thumbs-up for the move, saying Wright is a better fit for the league than he was.

“Shooting guards are a dime a dozen,” said Nelson, before talking about Wright. “With him, they love athletic wings who can run the floor and in his case shoot the ball. It’s tip-dunk galore. I had a guy on my team like him and he was very successful.”

Wright had his share of highlight dunks in his career. He also developed his outside shot to the point where he frequently let it go his senior year. He was 6 of 23 from 3-point range as a freshman and 39 of 118 this season.

His weight, or lack of it, continues to become less of an issue. He said he’s put on 10 pounds since the season ended — the biggest gain since he’s been in Fargo.

Wels went 15-15 last year in the 11-team league. Nelson’s former team, Kapfenberg, won the title.

Getting on a good team is the biggest key, Nelson said, in making the Austrian experience a good one.

“If he fits in as far as the basketball experience goes, then he’s going to love it,” Nelson said. “Your team is all you have over there, so if that’s not going well, it could make for a tough situation. It’s a stepping-stone league. A lot of guys start out in Switzerland or Austria and move up real quick.”

Wright said he signed a standard rookie contract that has living expenses included. He’s leaving Saturday for an exposure camp in Las Vegas for a week. Because he’s already signed, he said he’s going to use it more as a workout against better players.

He’s the second NDSU player from last year’s team to get a professional shot. Forward Taylor Braun is playing for Phoenix in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Bison head coach Dave Richman said Wright’s “freakish athleticism” gives him an upside as a professional player. He’ll have to adjust to a more physical-style of play, Richman said.

“He has a chance. He really does,” Richman said. “He got into a pretty good league for a first-year guy. He’s a real tough-minded kid — he’s never had anything handed to him.”

Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.