Wyoming Cowboys aim to build off of last year’s success in 2022

Hunter Maldonado scored a team-high 21 points in the Pokes' 66-58 loss to Indiana in the NCAA...
Hunter Maldonado scored a team-high 21 points in the Pokes' 66-58 loss to Indiana in the NCAA Tournament First Four on March 15, 2022.(UW Athletics)
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 4:54 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The Wyoming Cowboy’s found themselves in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015, being eliminated in the First Four by Indiana. This also marked their first at-large bid since 2002. While the run didn’t make it inside of the field of 64, it still managed to represent another step in a massive turnaround over the years.

“I think they don’t realize where the program my first year, Hunter and I’s first year. I think it’s giving them those stories and seeing what a major transition Coach Linder and all of us have had, and how special this place can be,” said Hunter Thompson, a 6th-year Senior on the Pokes roster.

Thompson, partnered with fellow standouts like Graham Ike, Hunter Maldonado, and Kenny Foster, represent some of the more tenured players returning to the Dome of Doom. In total, over 80% of the team’s scoring from last year has returned to Laramie, signaling that the core from their trip to the First Four is still largely intact.

On top of those returning players, the team transferred in three players from the PAC-12. Ethan Anderson, Jake Kyman, and Max Agbonkpolo were all added to the roster, and have also experienced their fair share of basketball in March.

“I think it’ll help a lot, because I mean now we’ve been there, we’ve been in that tournament, we’ve played in Indiana who’s a great team, and we also added three new guys who have also been there. They’ve been further, they’ve to Final Four’s, they’ve been to Elite Eights. I feel like when you put all that together with the coaching that we have ad the chemistry we have,  I think we have the chance to do some really special things this year,” said Wyoming big man Jeremiah Oden.

Their 24 regular season was the most the team has recorded since the 1951-1952 campaign. Last year, Graham Ike (19.5 PPG) and Hunter Maldonado (18.5 PPG) led the way in scoring for the Pokes. This year, the team may look to spread the wealth around even more.

“We’re like a swiss army knife, and any given night, it can be someone that goes off or hits the big shot or fills up the stat sheet. That’s just the beauty of our team, and I think everybody’s gonna really enjoy how we play this year,” Guard Xavier DuSell said of the team’s depth and balance.

Four of Wyoming’s five starters will return, with another four letterman coming back as well. It’s the blend of new and returning faces that has helped the team remain fresh, but retain the chemistry that helped drive last year’s success.

“I mean, we have an amazing group of guys. Everyone loves one another. I don’t doubt for a second that we’ll have any sort of problems as a team coming together. I think that we have the perfect mix of older guys like Hunter Thompson and Hunter Maldo who’ve been here for a very long time, and the new transfers coming in who are also older and that have played at a different level than us that can attribute and contribute more to our season and our team.”

The Wyoming Cowboy’s regular season will begin on November 7th when they play Colorado Christian in Laramie.