Much-anticipated Wyoming hoops season underway
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- Head coach Jeff Linder and the Wyoming Cowboys officially opened the season on Monday with their first official practice of the 2022-23 season. The Pokes return 85 percent of their scoring after making the NCAA Tournament a season ago and finishing the campaign with a 25-9 record.
The Cowboys will host an open scrimmage prior to the San Jose State football game on Saturday. The event is free and open to the public and is set for a 3 p.m. start. Autographs will follow the scrimmage and fans will have the opportunity to “select a seat” and purchase season tickets during the event.
Wyoming recorded 24 wins during the regular season in 2021-22 for the most since the Pokes recorded 24 during the 1951-52 campaign. Along with 85 percent of the scoring returning, the Cowboys return 84 percent of the rebounding from last season. Wyoming led the conference in defensive rebounds per game last season at 27.4 per game.
Offensively, the Pokes led the conference with 669 free-throw attempts and 485 makes. The Cowboys also led the league with 275 made three-pointers, which ranked fourth in single-season school history.
The Pokes return four starters and four other letter winners along with a pair of redshirts. Wyoming also welcomes five newcomers, including three transfer and two incoming freshmen.
Wyoming returns its top-two scorers in guard Hunter Maldonado and forward Graham Ike. Maldonado was a First Team All-Mountain West selection, averaging 18.5 points per game to go along with 6.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds per night. He became Wyoming’s all-time leader in assists in the closing games of last season, as he ranked No. 5 in the nation in helpers.
Ike was a First Team All-MW selection by the media and Second Team by the coaches. He ranked second in the conference with 19.5 points per game. He also grabbed 9.6 rebounds to rank second in the MW and No. 21 in the nation. He recorded 14 double-doubles on the season to rank No. 19 in the nation.
Other returning starters include forward Jeremiah Oden, who had a strong season for the Pokes in his second season with the program. He appeared in all 34 games and started 32 on the season. He averaged 7.8 points per game to go along with 4.5 rebounds per contest. He shot 52 percent from the field for the season.
Guard Xavier DuSell played in 30 games with 20 starts on the season. DuSell added 7.5 points per game to go along with 2.3 rebounds and one assists per game. He ranked second on the team, connecting on 54 three pointers and has 111 in his career.
The Wyoming bench returns four players who have seen significant playing time in the Brown and Gold.
Guard Brendan Wenzel gave the Pokes a strong presence off the bench and in a starting role. He appeared in all 34 games, making 14 starts. He averaged 5.2 points per game to go along with 2.9 rebounds. Forward Hunter Thompson played a key role off the bench for the Pokes. The Pine Bluffs native played in all 34 games with three starts. He averaged 2.7 points per game and 1.5 rebounds. He shot 37 percent from behind the arc with 25 on the season.
Guard Noah Reynolds was the only true freshman to see action, appearing in 23 games for the Pokes. he averaged 2.9 points per game to go along with 1.0 rebounds. Guard Kenny Foster appeared in nine games during the season struggling with injuries. He averaged 1.8 points per game and 2.7 rebounds.
The Cowboys welcomed a trio of transfers with guards Max Agbonkpolo and Ethan Anderson joining the team from the University of Southern California and Jake Kyman joining the Pokes from UCLA.
Agbonkpolo averaged 7.7 points per game to go along with three rebounds per night in 18 starts last season. Anderson averaged 4.4 points per game and 2.2 assists per contest. Kyman in 80 games for the Bruins in three seasons averaging 3.6 points per game to go along with 1.1 rebounds.
Wyoming also added a pair of freshmen to the roster in Texas native Caden Powell and Cheyenne product Nathanial Talich.
Powell was rated as a three-star recruit by both 247sports.com and Rivals.com. He was listed as the 39th best center nationally by 247sports.com. Talich was a three-time All-State selection at Cheyenne Central High School averaging 23.3 points per game as a senior.