At the start of the journey, with the long road stretched out before him, Keith Wright wouldn’t have believed it if you told him where that ribbon of blacktop would take him.
“I’ve been extremely blessed just to have this opportunity,” he said by phone Tuesday. “Going into freshman year, I never dreamed that I would have this opportunity.”
The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Harvard graduate was calling from Dallas, where he had just wrapped up his fifth and final workout prior to Thursday’s NBA draft. He said the workout for the Mavericks went well, just like the four before that (for the Bucks, Celtics, Suns and Warriors) did.
Though the process can be tedious -- each team going through its own poking and prodding session and combine-like testing before the actual basketball workout -- Wright said he's enjoyed it. In four years at Harvard, he helped lead a Crimson renaissance that resulted in back-to-back Ivy titles, the school’s first Top 25 ranking and an NCAA berth.
Competing against other NBA hopefuls has shown Wright that he's not just dreaming.
“I’m as good [as], if not better than, these guys I’ve been working out with, guys who are gonna be drafted,” he said. “So I’m excited for Thursday.”
Wright said he thinks he left a positive impression in each of his auditions for teams.
“A lot of them are surprised with how good I am, with some of the things I’m able to do,” Wright said. “In Coach [Tommy] Amaker’s system, everyone has a role and we stick with it because it works.”
So while Wright left school ranking 16th in the record books in scoring (1,178 points), fifth in rebounding (743) and first in blocks (149), his stats pale in comparison to those of many of his peers. In these workouts, then, it was on Wright to prove to decision-makers he’s capable of more than he was asked to do in school.
Wright said his agent, Derrick Powell of Excel Sports Management, has heard positive things from the teams taking a closer look at him.
He said he enjoyed his visit with the Celtics the most, since it’s close to home and because the C’s were playing the Sixers in the second round of the playoffs at the time. He said he got a positive vibe from the Mavs, as well.
Boston owns the 21st pick of the second round, No. 51 overall, while Dallas owns the 25th pick of the second round, No. 55 overall.
Wright’s done all he can to convince a team to pick him, and now all there is to do is wait. He’ll be at home, in Waltham, with family on Thursday night, watching with fingers crossed.
“I’m hoping to be picked up,” he said. “I’m hoping to hear my name called. I think I have a pretty good chance of sneaking into the second round.
“I think that’s everybody’s dream, to hear their name called. If that doesn’t happen, hopefully I get a call right after the draft about summer league and the rest will take care of itself from there.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.