LARAMIE -- The quips were plentiful. So were the engaging anecdotes.

It almost feels like Sundance Wicks never even left in the first place.

Wyoming's new bench boss, fresh off an 18-win campaign during his lone year on the sidelines at Wisconsin-Green Bay, provided plenty of entertainment Tuesday afternoon during a brief 28-minute conversation with the local media.

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Only five questions were asked during that time frame.

The stage belonged to Wicks.

He joked about the tailored checkered suits he would don on the Cowboys' bench, the seven pheasants his college coach "paid" to get him to attend Northern State and how badly he dropped the ball on both Mother's Day and his son Skywalker's third birthday.

He was sidetracked.

That day the Gillette native was busy putting pen to paper, inking a new five-year deal to become the new head coach at his home state university.

"We're going to have to throw a banger next year," Wicks said, flashing that trademark grin.

How did this homecoming come about?

The short answer: a phone call.

Tom Burman wanted to chat about the position Jeff Linder, Wicks' former boss, vacated before bolting to Texas Tech to become a lead assistant. Wyoming's Athletics Director made the offer. The decision, despite some admitted hoops -- like navigating a contract extension that would've kept Wicks in Green Bay through the 2029-29 season -- was a no-brainer.

This is the third time the University of Wyoming has come calling for Wicks' services.

The second came from Linder. That turned into a three-year stint, the climax being an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2021-22.

The first happened a quarter of a century ago.

"He opened up the door for me to be a Wyoming Cowboy when I was a junior in high school," Wicks recalled. "... I'll never forget it, he called me and I was like shaking because it's Larry Shyatt at the University of Wyoming, offering me a scholarship to be a Cowboy.

"Then, as we all know, the tides changed a little bit."

Shyatt left to take the head job at Clemson after spending just one season at UW. His successor, Steve McClain, didn't honor the scholarship, instead snagging a guard from Cheyenne named Marcus Bailey.

"They made the right choices down the stretch in the '02, '03 years to go to the NCAA Tournament and have great runs," Wicks admitted. "The path is the path. I went on my journey."

Shyatt would eventually reach out again.

"I was sitting in a Home Depot getting some boxes," Wicks said with a laugh. "... He called and he said, 'How freaking cool is this?' He was like, 'this is such a cool, poetic story for you to be able to go back and have this moment.' It was kind of a full circle for me to get that call from Larry Shyatt 25 years ago and to get that call from Larry Shyatt 25 years later.

"So, here we are, honoring the brown and gold like we never left."

The unconventional route.

Wicks said he was giving that very speech at a clinic in Orlando, Florida when Burman reached out.

He was telling coaching prospects about his own path, which began humbly at his alma mater in Aberdeen, South Dakota before transitioning to being the youngest assistant in the Big XII at Colorado. That lasted one season. Ricardo Patton and his staff were fired after a 7-20 campaign in 2006-07. Four years later, this time at Northern Illinois, the same result.

That, turns out, wasn't rock bottom.

Over the next four years, Wicks, living in the back of an MMA gym and sleeping on a beanbag, started an AAU program in suburban Phoenix. He refers to that period as a "basketball sabbatical," adding it was a chance to reinvent himself.

That next opportunity came at the University of San Francisco, where Wicks would join Rex Walters' roster of coaches. On that staff, his younger brother Luke Wicks.

"So here I am, the older brother, that's actually the younger assistant," he joked. "You know, going into a role where you're extremely humbled because all your brother wanted to do growing up was kick your ass and now he gets to sit there and boss me around, which was unique in that sense."

Wicks returned to Northern State in 2016. A year later the Wolves were national runner's up in the Division II men's basketball tournament after compiling a record of 36-4.

A head coaching opportunity finally arrived.

Wicks won a dozen games during his first season on the sidelines at Missouri Western. That record improved by six the following year. After a brief tenure as an assistant in Laramie, he once again got a chance to take over a program. This time, at the Division-I level.

"You pray for those opportunities," Wicks said, referring to his shot in Wisconsin, "but God doesn't reward you in the way you think he's going to reward you. He says, 'you want an opportunity, let's go to 362 out of 362 and see what you can do, big boy.'

"You got to be kind of crazy in this profession and then you also have to take some risks. You have to take some leaps."

Green Bay was statistically the worst program in the country, winning just three games the year before Wicks arrived. After one season on the shores of Lake Michigan, that total reached 19, marking the ninth-biggest turnaround in the sport's history.

"At the end of the day, it's not too much betting on yourself as much as believing in your processes and getting the right people around to do great things," he added. "I think that's what we were able to accomplish at Green Bay, which honestly probably afforded us this situation here."

Wicks hasn't had time to celebrate the new challenge that lies ahead.

In fact, it took him more than a week to do an initial press conference. That happened over Zoom, to boot.

A roster makeover is in full swing. Wicks and Co. have already landed four players, including Obi Agbim, who was an initial Linder recruit before briefly re-entering the transfer portal after he left for Lubbock. The Fort Lewis graduate transfer is now back in the mix. He made his announcement just moments before Wicks went live.

Another prospective player called in Tuesday as Wicks answered questions from the press.

"I'm going to have to decline that one," he smiled. "If we don't get that kid, you guys are screwed, I'm telling you that right now. It's on you. So, I'll call him back, but, crap, I'm just going to have to explain here, just one ring, send it to voicemail. He's probably not going like that."

What will be different about this regime?

Well, nearly everything.

This staff -- and players -- will be out in the community, on campus, around the state, Wicks said. Like in Jay Sawvel's football program, cameras will now be allowed in the locker room, social media will be a focus. Wicks said he wants the fans to get "attached" to the program again, especially students.

"I'll probably go to frat parties," the 43-year-old joked. "I'll go to sororities and probably walk over to the dorms, buy some pizza and sit down. I don't know, I mean, I'd like to think there are some 'Cowboy crazies' out there that we're going to get. I attract crazy people, outside of my wife."

Relationships, Wicks added, will be an integral part of the process. That goes for players, coaches and supporters.

In fact, he guarantees it.

"The one thing that we will do better than anybody else in this country -- and I can put my stamp on that -- is we will care, we will connect and we will compete at a high fricking level, regardless of the salary cap," he said. "So, that you can put a fricking Wyoming damn stamp on."

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