Wright brothers both land at Division I level (2024)

Jun. 14—Growing up in the household of Joe and Karina Wright in Carthage made for a strict life, at least in terms of athletics.

For Always and All Wright, that strict raising they received, whether it be basketball, football or baseball, led them both to college basketball at the Division I level.

Always began that Division I journey last year at the University of Rhode Island and is returning there for the 2024-25 campaign as a junior. All is going to Valparaiso University in Indiana as a freshman. Both prepped at Joplin High School.

"I kind of started them off with, 'You weren't going to have a choice. This is what you are going to do,'" Joe Wright said. "I'm an American. I played basketball, baseball and football. So I said we're going to those and then add on."

Mom was often the mediator. Karina Wright made sure the boys were putting in the necessary work and even made sure they got to all the games, practices or camps they had throughout youth and high school athletics.

But she also knew how to keep things light.

"I was the enforcer. I'm the one that was intense. If they didn't have a good game and we had a fight or argument at the gym, I got it at home," Joe Wright said. "She was always on their side."

The boys have their own words for both parents.

"Our dad has been hard on us, and I love him for it. We told him at a young age what we wanted to do, and he told us what it was going to take. He pushed us even on the days we didn't want to be pushed," All said.

Always agreed and added: "One person that is in the background is my mother. I have to give a big shoutout to my mom for being the foundation of the family. Things aren't always going to go good on the court, and she never loved us any less or more because of it."

Their parents are just two of many people that Always and All say they could say thanks on their journey to this stage.

"I could name a lot of people as well. But, really, it's just our mom. She's the glue to our family," All said.


At a young age, the Wright brothers were dabbling in many sports beyond the big three American sports. Eventually, the boys were getting lessons at a country club in Mexico for tennis and golf — the same country club their mom received lessons as a young athlete.

But the boys' interest in those sports didn't last long.

It was after youth sports that both of the brothers dropped baseball and focused then on basketball and football. Always played football all the way through high school and starred as the quarterback at Joplin High School.

All stepped away from football after his sophom*ore year as he knew where he wanted to focus his energy for the rest of his prep career.

"Basketball, for me, was the game I always knew I was a little better at than most. Football was good for me, not as good as it was for Always," All said. "I always looked at football as another thing to do to stay in shape."

Always ultimately chose basketball when he decided to go to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami. He had received offers for football but couldn't get himself to leave the game of basketball.

"I would say my dad definitely pushed basketball a little harder, him being a basketball guy. But, also, just love of the game. I couldn't really get into football as much as I wanted to basketball," Always said.

That line from All saying, "We told him at a young age what we wanted to do and he told us what it was going to take" explains the strictness from Joe Wright.

Their father had already experienced those dreams his boys were after of playing after high school and hopefully even further. His post-prep career began at State Fair Community College and then he went to Kansas State University. Eventually, he signed to play professionally overseas.

With the realization of what the boys wanted to do came this decision: "I decided we were going to practice basketball every single day," Joe Wright said.

The measures to get to the next level worked as Always is heading into his second year of Division I basketball and All is heading there as a freshman, and Joe Wright saw it coming.

"I told them: 'Guys, if you really work hard, basketball is going to take you, like it took me, to unfamiliar places you've never been before," Joe Wright said. "Guess what, we're probably going to start meeting in those places."

He reminisced as he thought about the excitement of having both boys at the top level of college basketball.

"I got both of my kids to Division I basketball — what we were working toward their whole lives, basically," he said. "Now they just have to go show everybody what they've got and keep it rolling."


Growing up in the gym with each other all the time, they were able to see each other develop and become better athletes. Both boys talked about what they saw from each other.

"Seeing All develop has been a motivation for me. Seeing him chasing greatness, All-State, staying confident and he stays in the gym. That helps me stay motivated," Always said. "Nonetheless, I'm proud of All for the steps he's taken and really embracing his own journey."

"Watching Always, he was always two grades above me playing with the older guys. I would always kind of mold my game after Always," All said. "Everything he did in the gym I always tried to do. I saw the journey he was on and I knew that's where I wanted to take my career as well."

They both were striving for this day to be mentioned on a Division I roster somewhere in the country.

But when did they know they could get there?

For Always, there were specific moments that stood out to him about All's abilities. All remembers never doubting his older brother.

"One time we were playing in a tournament and I was playing a year up so All was playing three years up. All came out with the confidence to have seven 3s (3-pointers) that game and have a really big game. As soon as I saw him unfazed by the competition level, I knew he had it," Always said.

He noted that the big jump All took from his sophom*ore to junior year to be a leader on the Joplin High School team showed him what his younger brother could do at the next level. Finally, his third moment was seeing him take the leap to Link Academy this past year and playing that level of prep athletes.

"Not just on the court but in leadership too. Finding out he had all the intangibles. Not just on the court, which I feel like is pretty apparent in All," Always said.

"To be honest, there was never a moment where I thought Always couldn't play Division I basketball. Growing up in the gym, playing basketball, that was kind of our mindset," All said.

Now, with the talent level of one another and being confident in themselves comes a lot of competition on the court. Neither one is willing to say the other is better than them.

"I can probably speak for both of us. Both of us feel like neither of us can check each other," Always said. "Iron sharpens iron. Him having that mindset of 'big brother can't check me' has helped me out because it's never let me think I can take it easy on All."

"I would never say that Always is a better basketball player than me or anything like that," All said. "More or less, I would watch Always and try to learn from him and find out things about my game I needed to change. He's kind of a role model for my game and my career, for real."

That will continue as the two communicate daily and will be bouncing ideas and thoughts off one another all season.

Wright brothers both land at Division I level (2024)
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