Team News, 2006-2007 Season - Ohlone College Renegades Women's Basketball

Ohlone women have Wright stuff

Super-quick point guard out of Berkeley High leads Renegades to NorCal playoffs

By Kyle Bonagura, Staff writer.

Reprinted from Inside Bay Area - February 22, 2007.

FREMONT—Anyone who has seen Ohlone College point guard Danesha Wright play basketball knows she belongs in a Division I program, and if it were not for a suspicious ruling by the NCAA two years ago, she'd already be there.

The Oakland native and former Berkeley High star drew plenty of interest during her standout high school career and was all set to entertain scholarship offers from numerous schools on the West Coast.

However, there was one problem. Her initial SAT score fell below the NCAA requirement for its student-athletes.

"It was frustrating for her," said Gene Nakamura, Wright's coach at Berkeley. "She just showed up and took the test the first time, she basically took it blind. After her score came back, she studied for four months at Berkeley Youth Alternatives and scored like 1,100 (out of 1,600). The NCAA said it was too high a jump (in scores and was red-flagged). It really upsets me because she went to tutoring just to take that test. She should of had that chance (to go Division I)."

So Wright, who was a third-team All-ANG selection after her senior year in 2005, took her game to South Plains College in Levelland, Texas—a city of about 13,000 near Lubbock in west Texas.

Wright immediately was thrown into the starting lineup, but an ankle injury sidelined her for about a month. In that time, the team's coach, Michelle Wyatt, all but forgot about Wright. When she returned to the court, her playing time diminished, and Wright got to thinking.

"I wasn't happy there. I was homesick, and I wanted to play," Wright said.

She made up her mind to come back to the Bay Area, where she has always had a great support group around her. Two of her biggest supporters, Bob and Tina Frey, just happened to be assistant coaches at Ohlone.

"Bob and Tina are as close to Danesha as they are to their own child," said Ohlone head coach Elizabeth Stanley. "When she was unhappy in Texas, she would turn to them for advice. She knew if she came to Ohlone they'd look after her."

It was settled, Wright returned to her Oakland home and enrolled at Ohlone. She lives with her mother and stepfather, Jennifer and Christopher Blanchard, and her 6-year old sister, Camille, and makes the roughly 30-mile drive from Oakland to Fremont nearly every day.

Things couldn't be much better.

The transition was rather seamless for Wright, who quickly meshed with her new teammates as they prepared for the season. Ohlone (25-5) is ranked No.9 in Northern California heading into Friday's first-round game at City College of San Francisco in the NorCal Regional playoffs.

Wright was recently named the Coast Conference MVP and first-team all-state after averaging 20.4 points, 8.3 assists and 4.6 steals per game.

At just 5-foot-3, Wright is hardly an imposing figure, but her quickness and ballhandling skills quickly make on lookers forget about her lack of height.

"Sometimes opposing fans end up cheering for her because she is so fun to watch," Stanley said.

Wright can only laugh. These junior college games are almost child's play for her considering she grew up playing against boys much bigger and faster than anyone she sees at the JC level.

"I had to learn how to dribble or the guys wouldn't have let me play with them," Wright said.

She doesn't have any female family members around her age, so she found her self tagging along with her older male cousins to pickup games, starting in about fifth grade.

Eventually she started playing organized ball and ended up going to Berkeley to play in the storied program Nakamura had built. It didn't taske long for Nakamura to realize what a special player he had. She played varsity four years, including starting her final three years.

For now, Wright is focused on taking Ohlone to the state championship, but soon recruiting will pick up again. The electrifying point guard said she hopes to stay in California, but will be open to any school on the West Coast.

She may be arriving on the Division I scene later than originally expected, but Wright is poised to leave a lasting impact at whatever schools she picks.

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