By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
The crawler across the television screen confirmed the terrible news for Lafayette County superintendent of schools Mike Foster.
The body of former standout basketball player Lorenzen Wright had been discovered in southeast Memphis. He had been missing since July 19.
Foster was the 6-foot-11 former University of Memphis and NBA player’s high school basketball coach for two seasons at Lafayette County High School – 1992 and ’93.
“This is so sad,” Foster said Wednesday afternoon. “I just hate it.”
Wright was the Daily Journal’s Co-Player of the Year in basketball his junior season. He averaged 22.2 points, 17.5 rebounds and 5.3 blocked shots per game.
Lafayette County lost its final game of the 1993 season to eventual MHSAA Class 4A state champion Jackson Lanier in the North Mississippi tournament. It was to be the final game Wright would play for the Commodores.
He reluctantly transferred to a Memphis high school, Booker T. Washington, to play his senior season.
“He was raised by his grandmother in Oxford,” Foster said. “His parents lived in Memphis and wanted him to play there. He sat in my office and cried. He said, ‘Coach, I don’t want to go.’
“I told him he’d get more exposure up there and it’s what his mom and dad wanted him to do. I understood, but it did cost me another shot at going to the Big House.”
Lafayette County lost to Lawrence County in the 1992 state championship game when Wright was a sophomore.
“He worked hard at being a good player,” Foster said. “When he came into the gym he was all business. He wanted to do whatever it took to win.
“He was a phenomenal player. He wanted to do well in everything he did.”
Wright was also a solid performer in the classroom. He was a college qualifier following his sophomore year.
“I hadn’t talked to him since we retired his jersey a few years ago at a football game,” Foster said. “He never forgot us here in Lafayette County. He will always be a Commodore.”