Pipelines are all too familiar in the state of Wyoming, carrying energy from remote parts of the state to population centers in need of it. Wouldn’t it be nice if a similar pipeline existed in the University Wyoming’s sporting world? Wouldn’t it be nice to funnel talent from all over the state to Laramie?
UW men’s basketball head coach Jeff Linder is still filling out his inaugural-season roster. He has already gained commitments from a guard in Arizona and a junior college guard from Indian Hills Community College.
One thing the state of Wyoming is known for in the larger basketball landscape is its junior college ball. From Sheridan College to Casper College to Western Wyoming Community College — which won the Region IX title this past season — the Equality state has plenty of hardwood talent.
Wouldn’t it be nice for UW to develop inroads with some of the local JUCOs? Many of those schools are just a simple and scenic drive from Laramie.
Wyoming has infiltrated some of those JUCOs for talent in recent memory. Donta Richardson, from Sheridan College, was an NJCAA All-American before averaging double figures in points for the Pokes in the early 2000s.
More recently, Hayden Dalton — who spent one year at Central Wyoming prior to enjoying a three-year stint at UW — averaged double figures, helping lead the Pokes to a CBI championship. Francisco Cruz came to Laramie from Region IX stalwart Western Nebraska and helped bring in the Larry Shyatt era with a couple stellar years in the brown and gold.
And it hasn’t just been the Region IX JUCOs that have proven fruitful for the Pokes. Many other players in Wyoming lore were groomed in the junior college ranks.
Luke Martinez attended Williston State and brought that sharpshooting to UW. Derek Cooke Jr. played at Cloud County in Kansas ahead of picking and rolling his way to numerous highlight-reel dunks and a Mountain West Conference Championship.
There was Darrius Gilmore from Jones County JC in Mississippi, Justin Williams from Colby Community College in Kansas, Dion Sherrell from Schoolcraft Community College in Michigan, Nathan Sobey from Cochise College in Arizona, Louis Adams from Odessa College in Texas and Uche Nsonwu-Amadi from Indian Hills in Iowa.
Region IX, specifically the North Division, has stood as one of the better conferences in the NJCAA. The well of talent seemingly never runs dry.
According to JUCORecruting.com’s 2020 top-100 list, four players from Wyoming-based Region IX schools will go on to play NCAA Division I ball. Last year, five players ranked inside the top 100 within Wyoming-based JUCOs ascended to the Division I ranks — two of them being SC’s Cam Reece and AJ Bramah. The year before that, five from the top-100 were from the Region IX North Division.
The basketball talent is right here in the state of Wyoming. Similar to the energy that’s in this great state, it simply needs to be tapped into.
Wyoming doesn’t possess many recruiting advantages due to geographic isolation. One area that could be advantageous, however, are the JUCOs that reside in the open plains and mountain towns of the Equality state.
Former University of Wyoming basketball player Riley Grabau — who played on the 2015 Mountain West Conference Tournament title team — was named the UW men’s basketball director of recruiting.
UW Athletics Director Tom Burman has elected to reduce his salary 10 percent in light of the economic challenges Wyoming, and all of America, are facing.