From the Desk of Nick Seaman
Coming off back-to-back 20-win season, the Cowboys basketball team opened preparation for the upcoming season with a workout on Tuesday afternoon. The Cowboys, featuring All-Mountain West guard Justin JAmes, open their exhibition season Nov. 1 with an exhibition game against Colorado Chrsitian.
“We were very excited to get this group out on the floor for the first practice,” Wyoming head coach Allen Edwards said. “I thought we really used the eight weeks in the preseason to get better. Our guys are excited to get to work in preparation for the season.”
Edwards became the only coach in Cowboy history to win at least 20 games in his first two seasons as head coach. Wyoming was once again a potent offense last season averaging 79.8 points per game, as UW hit 304 three pointers for the third-most in school history. Wyoming also tied an NCAA record a season ago going 6-0 in overtime. Chattanooga set the record in 1989.
The Cowboys return starters James and sophomore guard Hunter Maldonado. James was a First Team All-Mountain West selection last season, averaging 18.9 points, 6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. In conference play, James averaged 20.8 points per game, ranking second in the MW. James scored 20 or more points 15 times, including a career-high 33 points twice. Maldonado averaged 5.3 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.
Other returners include senior guard Nyaires Redding (3.7 PPG, 1.3 APG), senior forward Jordan Naughton (2.0 PPG, 1.2 RPG) and sophomore forward Austin Mueller (1.1 PPG, 0.5 RGP). Redshirt freshman Hunter Thompson earned valuable experience last season redshirting for the Cowboys.
“The returning players have done a great job this summer of setting the tone and building on our culture,” Edwards said. “The veterans set the right type of example for the newcomers. I thought our new guys did a nice job of following suit and their energy was great. They want to get better individually and as a team.”
Wyoming added three junior college transfers in A.J. Banks (Pratt CC, Kan.), Lwal Dung (Neosho CC, Kan.) and Jake Hendricks (College of Southern Idaho). They also added five prep school players to the roster in Bradley Belt (Washington Academy), Tariq Johnson (Mt. Zion Prep), Brandon Porter (Washington Academy), Trevon “TJ” Taylor (Hillcrest Prep) and Trace Young (Mt. Zion Prep).
The Cowboys spent the summer in Laramie working out with new strength and conditioning coach Marcus Edwards. The group also worked on skill development with the coaching staff, and took part in several events within the Wyoming community.
“I thought the eight weeks were crucial to get some things done for a team standpoint that will not be need to get done here early in preseason practice,” Edwards said. “We did more drills over the summer. At the end of the day this group has the willingness to do whatever it takes to get better.”