LARAMIE -- "Yeah, I plan to."

That was Cam Manyawu's response when asked after the Cowboys' first-round ouster in the Mountain West Tournament if he was returning to the Wyoming basketball program for his sophomore season.

Plans change.

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The 6-foot-9 forward Thursday entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation, becoming the fifth Cowboy to hit the open market since free agency began back on March 18.

A sixth would soon follow.

Kael Combs, a freshman guard who appeared in 27 games during his first season at Wyoming, is also gone, those same sources added.

Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman last week said he didn't expect any additional players to enter the portal after the initial four -- Brendan WenzelCaden PowellJacob Theodosiou and Jonas Sirtautas -- announced their departures from the team.

"Obviously Cam is a very talented young man and I love the way Kael plays," Burman said. "What we have to do is get some guys around them, and then we're going to have to get some guards. We lost two guards (Akuel Kot and Sam Griffin) who were good players and one high school kid that came in last year (Theodosiou), so we're going to have to find some guys who can give him the basketball and take care of it. Kael can do a lot of it, but he can't play 40 minutes."



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That calmed fears.

Those were sparked again Wednesday when it was discovered that assistant Bryston Williams left Laramie after just one season for a similar position at Drake. Williams played and coached with Ben McCollum, who was officially hired at the Des Moines institution last Tuesday.

Williams also discovered Manyawu when he was on the staff at Indiana State. After a brief commitment to the Sycamores, the three-star prospect from Kansas City followed Williams to Wyoming.

The move paid off immediately.

Manyawu, who averaged 7.5 points per game to go along with 6.7 rebounds, came out of the gate with three straight double-doubles, including a 19-point, 10-rebound performance against visiting Cal Poly. He added four more of those while appearing in all 32 games. He capped his lone season on the high plains shooting 60.7% from the field.

Combs, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged under three points an outing but showed glimpses late in the regular season that he could be the future at the point for this program. In a lopsided loss to Boise State in Laramie, the Nixa, Mo., product netted a career-high 12 points while connecting on 4-of-6 shots from the field. He also finished with a team-high five assists.

Combs was a Class 6 All-State selection and named the COC player of the Year as a senior at Nixa High School. He was also the District 5 Player of the Year and the News-Leader Player of the Year. Combs, who averaged 23.4 points per night to go along with nearly seven rebounds and 6.1 assists, also earned Springfield Tip-Off Club Player of the Year. He hit 44% of his shots from beyond the arc.

After a late-season loss to rival Colorado State inside a sold out Moby Arena, Wyoming head coach Jeff Linder was asked what makes these two Missouri products so special.

"I thought Kael, down the stretch when Sam picked up his fourth (foul), I mean, he was really composed, got us into what we needed to get into and just was able to make plays, not just for himself, but for others. That's the big thing about Kael, he has the ability to create easy baskets for his teammates."

As far as Manyawu, who led the team with 15 points and 10 rebounds that day against the Rams, Linder said the 18-year-old was just getting started.

"He just gets better and better and better," he added. "He doesn't know what he's doing, but he just has a knack for the ball and just has soft hands."

Wyoming lost eight players to the portal last offseason, including the conference's preseason player of the year, Graham Ike.

Potential six-figure paydays and unlimited transfer opportunities have opened the floodgates. Nearly 1,000 players are currently in the portal with the Final Four still two days away.

Oregon State, a program that was in the Elite Eight just two years ago, has now lost eight players to free agency. San Jose State has already lost its three top scorers from a year ago, along with three others. Fresno State has also taken a major hit with six departures.

The defending Mountain West champion Utah State Aggies will now be without the league's player of the year, Great Osobor, who announced his intentions to leave Logan on Wednesday.

Former Wyoming players Jeremiah Oden, Xavier DuSell and Noah Reynolds are also currently in the portal.



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Burman said raising NIL funds can only help. He added the school has roughly $300,000 at its disposal right now, across all sports. UW's AD wants to see that number around $750,000 to $800,000.

"What you see right now in men's basketball, which is constant turnover, is going to be what we're going to have to live with," Burman said.

Linder and Co. now have five available scholarships and a possible sixth if Kenny Foster doesn't come back for his final season in Laramie.

The transfer portal is open until May 1.

Division-I programs are allowed up to 13 full-ride players on the roster. Here are Wyoming's scholarship players as of March 21, 2024:

Oliver Faubert

Dominic Pangonis

Jehvion Starwood

Dylan Warlick

Oleg Kojenets

Kobe Newton

Nigle Cook

* Kenny Foster

* Undecided on returning to program next season

POKES: The Seven Best Games In The History Of The Wyoming-CSU Border War Rivalry (Naturally, they were all Wyoming wins)

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