LARAMIE -- There was a bum ankle.

There was a trifecta of viruses: COVID-19, strep throat and mononucleosis, all simultaneously.

There was a mid-season back surgery. There was a snapped Achilles tendon.

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After a promising start to his Wyoming career, Kenny Foster has since dealt with all of the above. Those numerous setbacks have cost him 72 games. He's appeared in just 76.

The last will undoubtedly be the most memorable.

With 8:53 remaining in the first half last Saturday night at San Jose State, Foster got the call. He entered the game, promptly pulled down an offensive rebound before laying it up and in.

"I knew that it was going to happen," the senior guard said postgame. "It was just going to be a matter of time."

It has been just four months since he tore the muscle that connects the calf with the heel bone. It's the strongest tendon in the human body. Recovery time can take up to a year.

Read that again.

"Kenny Foster came back and played in a Division-I men's basketball game four months after tearing his Achilles," an impassioned head coach Jeff Linder said after the 80-75 road win over the Spartans. "You know why? Because he knows this is all he has left and all he wanted to do was try to get out there, knowing that, hey, (Brendan) Wenzel might not be ready to go and then Akuel (Kot) starts cramping up. I mean, for him to come out there and do that, it's just remarkable.

"It's a credit to him because of the type of kid he is. I mean, it's just amazing."

Foster played more than a dozen minutes in his 2024 debut. The Aurora, Colo., product dished out an assist and also hauled in a defensive board.

"I mean, the biggest thing for me is I couldn't think, I just have to react," Foster said with a laugh, adding that he was a little "stiff." "Everybody picked me up. You know, everybody believed in me.

"... I don't want to say it felt like I needed to be out there, but it felt good to be out there."

Foster averaged nearly five points and 2.5 rebounds while appearing in 32 games during his true freshman season in Laramie. The former Gatorade Colorado Player of the Year at Smoky Hill High School finished with a then career-high 18 points in a loss to Utah State in the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament.

The production carried over during the 2020-21 coronavirus-shortened campaign.

Foster netted 21 points in an opening night win over Incarnate Word, and again reached double figures in victories over Oregon State and Denver.

Injuries eventually cost him eight games.

It would only escalate from there. Foster has missed 63 more since the completion of his sophomore season.

"The first week of October, when I did it, I didn't think I was coming back," he said. "And now, being able to be out here with the guys, playing the season, it's nothing but speechless for me."

Can Foster be a real factor for this squad with just six games remaining in the regular season?

"Whatever he can give us, I mean, we're going to take," Linder said on Monday. "... The bench is thin, and to have a guy like him who can come in there and give you a few minutes here and there, I mean, it's just where we're at right now and down the stretch it's invaluable."

The Cowboys (13-12, 6-5) will travel to Reno Tuesday night to take on the Nevada Wolf Pack (20-6, 7-5). Tipoff is slated for 9 p.m. and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

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