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Dec. 18, 2006

by Cathy Bongiovi

Distractions for college students are everywhere. For Virginia’s Monica Wright, intense focus has helped her take college life all in stride.

Selected as the Preseason ACC Rookies of the Year, the Woodbridge, Va., native earned a starting position with the Cavaliers this season. After nine games, Wright has shown why she deserves the nod. Named the ACC Rookie of the Week times three times already, she stands second in team scoring with 13.9 points per game while dishing out 30 assists.

All the hype is enough to distract any newcomer. But not Wright.

“I just try to ignore a lot of that distracting stuff and just focus on what Coach Ryan wants us to do and what my teammates need me to do,” the 5-11 guard said. “Just focus on what’s important here at UVa, not other things.”

Starting for a veteran team has encouraged the freshman.

“It’s a way to keep myself going and keep pushing, try to make myself better and help the team,” Wright said. “It’s an opportunity for me to work harder.”

A two-time Street & Smith’s All-American, USA Today Junior All-American, and McDonald’s All-American at Forest Park High School, Wright was ranked the No. 2 guard and No. 11 player overall in the nation, in the Class of 2006, according to Blue Star Basketball. As a senior, the two-time first team All-State selection and Associated Press Group AAA Player of the Year helped Forest Park to the AAA state championship.

Monica Wright is an in-state player who’s versatility and athleticism stand out right away,” head coach Debbie Ryan said. “She is a guard that has the size and strength to play on the wing or at the small forward position. She is a slasher who can post up and step out to shoot the three. Monica is also a tenacious defender who can change the complexion of a game quickly with her ability to anticipate and force turnovers.”

Wright wants to continue her winning ways at Virginia.

“Play well for Coach Ryan, meet her expectations, and win the ACC and national championships,” Wright said of her goals before graduation.

While the Cavaliers have played an intense non-conference schedule, Wright has been forewarned how tough ACC play will be.

“Every practice Coach Ryan is drilling it into us, letting us know that we have to get better,” Wright said. “We can’t stop here, because teams are not going to get easier. They’re going to get harder, and we have to get better.”

While contemplating a major in foreign affairs, Wright was introduced to college life last summer.

“That was a big help, just getting my feet wet and being able to manage classes and workouts,” Wright shared. “Right now, I feel like I’m a professional already at time management.”

But her biggest adjustment to college life had nothing to do with classes or basketball.

“I’d have to say not having a car as a first-year, having to walk places, and being responsible for yourself,” Wright shared.

When time allows, Wright pursues her two other passions- movies and eating pasta.

“I love movies,” Wright said. “War movies like Gladiator, Troy, and Braveheart. I also like Adam Sandler. I like funny stuff like Big Daddy and Happy Gilmore.”

For the moment, Wright is enjoying her first season as a Cavalier. Playing in John Paul Jones Arena and traveling to exotic places like the Bahamas have shown Wright how close the Virginia team is.

“I loved it,” Wright said. “It was good experience to get away from Charlottesville for a little while and be with my teammates and basketball family. Anytime I’m with my teammates, it’s fun no matter what.”

Focused on this season, Wright is prepared avoid the distractions.

“I’m just taking it step-by-step, day-by-day,” Wright shared.

Out of Bounds with Monica Wright

Food Shrimp fettuccine
Junk Food Kit Kat
Ice cream Coldstone
Color Yellow
Movie Troy, Gladiator
TV Show Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Actor Adam Sandler
Actress Halle Berry
Book The Bible

Most embarrassing song on my iPod …
the Willy Wonka Oompa Loompa song

Three words that best describe me …
fun, aware, versatile

The extreme activity I would like to try …
bungee jumping

My advice to a young athlete is …
come to UVa.

Best Christmas present as a kid …
shoes (Jordans)

I chose my jersey number, because …
it was what my dad chose for me.

One thing I always pack for road trips is …

I chose Virginia because …
academics, close to home, great program.

My goals for the season are …
a national championship.

Best thing I like about John Paul Jones Arena is …
the dining hall.

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