Meet your 2020-21 Cowboy basketball team
LARAMIE -- The Jeff Linder era is set to kick off in five days inside the Arena-Auditorium when Mississippi Valley State pays a visit to Laramie.
You will recognize a few of his players. The new ones, to help matters along, will also have their last names featured on the back of three new uniform combinations the program unveiled Monday.
You may have heard, Rivals.com named Linder's first recruiting class at UW tops in the Mountain West Conference. It was also one of the best in the nation. He did it all over Zoom calls as the country shutdown because of COVID-19 after Linder was hired back on March 17.
Just in case you don't want to learn about these guys on the fly, here is a breakdown of the 2020-21 roster:
Freshman - Guard - Xavier DuSell (6'4, 190 - Scottsdale, Ariz.)
DuSell, a three-star recruit, was offered by UTEP, Montana, Northern Arizona, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Idaho State and Mountain West foe New Mexico. The shooting guard averaged 14 points per game to go along with 4.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists during his senior season at Arizona Compass Prep. He helped lead his high school squad to a 24-6 record, a Top-10 ranking in the state. DuSell also played AAU for Team Harden.
Sophomore - Guard - Kenny Foster (6'5", 190 - Aurora, Colo.)
Foster started six games for the Cowboys in 2019-20, averaging just 4.2 points per game. However, the former Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year out of Smoky Hill High School saved his best performance for the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas. In the semifinal game against Utah State, Foster scored a career-high 18 points. He sank 4-of-7 shots from beyond the arc and shot 6-for-13 from the floor. Foster scored in double digits four times during his freshman campaign.
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Freshman - Forward - John Grigsby (6'9", 215 - Louisville, Colo.)
Grigsby had offers from Army and Augustana out of high school. He was also sought after by Division-II programs like the University of Sioux Falls, Western State (Colo.) and Concordia (Minn.). Instead, Grigsby decided to take a preferred walk-on spot with Linder's Cowboys. As a senior, Grigsby played in Minnesota. At Park Center, he averaged 12.5 points per outing for one of the top teams in the state. Grigsby shined from three-point land, sinking 52 percent of his shots from deep. Before transferring to Minnesota, Grigsby played his first three season of prep hoops at Monarch High School in Colorado.
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Freshman - Forward - Graham Ike (6'9", 245 - Aurora, Colo.)
Ike, a three-star recruit out of Overland High School, was recruited by Washington State, Saint Louis, UMass, Air Force, Bucknell, Akron and Loyola Marymount. As a junior, Ike was named to the Second-Team All-Colorado squad by USA Today after averaging 17.6 points per game to go along with a dozen rebounds. His senior year was cut short due to an ACL tear. Ike likely won't see the court until January or February -- if at all -- as he makes his way back from the knee injury. Ike played AAU ball for the Colorado Hawks. Current teammate Kwane Marble also played for the Hawks in high school.
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Junior - Guard - Drake Jeffries (6'5", 185 - Mattoon, Ill.)
Jeffries averaged nearly 10 points per games last season at Indian Hills Community College (Iowa). He was one of the top three-point threats in the country, sinking 45 percent of his shots from deep. The three-star recruit connected on an eye-popping 86 threes. Jeffries earned First-Team All-Regiona honors and helped lead his team to the No. 2 seed in the junior college National Tournament. Jeffries played one season at Minot State (N.D.) before transferring to Indian Hills. He was also recruited by Indiana State, Drake, Illinois-Chicago and Detroit.
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Junior - Forward - Drew LaMont (6'8", 225 - Plantation, Fla.)
Stop me if you've heard this before -- this guy can shoot from deep. LaMont hit 84 threes (41%) during his final season at Indian River State College (Fla.). He earned first-team All-Southern Conference honors after averaging 12.8 points per outing. He also grabbed 4.1 rebounds per outing. LaMont spent one season at American University before transferring to IRSC. He was also recruited by Central Michigan, Appalachian State, Stony Brook, McNeese State and Jacksonville.
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Junior - Guard - Hunter Maldonado (6'7", 200 - Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Safe to say that Maldonado was the heart and soul of the Cowboys last winter. The then-sophomore netted 15.8 points per outing, including scoring in double figures in the team's first 19 games. His best game came in the season opener against Idaho State when he scored a season-high 32 points in a win over the visiting Bengals. He scored more than 20 points six times, earning third-team All-Mountain West honors. After missing a majority of the 2018-19 campaign, Maldonado played in all 33 games for the Cowboys last season. Along with scoring, Maldonado led the team in rebounding (5.8), field goals made (183), minutes per game (35) and assists (4.0).
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Sophomore - Guard - Kwane Marble (6'6", 195 - Denver, Colo.)
Like Foster, Marble saved some of his best basketball for the end of the season. The then-freshman earned a spot on the MW All-Tournament Team after scoring 20 in an opening victory over Border War rival Colorado State and following that up with a career-high 24-point performance in a stunner over Nevada in the quarterfinals in Las Vegas. In the season finale, Marble netted 15 against eventual tournament champion, Utah State. He appeared in 27 games last season and shot 48 percent from the field, including 36 percent from beyond the arc. Marble scored in double figures 11 times. He averaged 8.2 points per game which was third on the team in 2019-20.
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Sophomore - Forward - Eoin Nelson (6'10", 225 - Dublin, Ireland)
"The Big Shamrock" received offers from Boise State, Florida Gulf Coast and Montana State after spending a season at Otero Junior College (Colo.). Nelson averaged six points and nearly as many rebounds per game a season ago. He also shot 58 percent from the field. Known for his aggressiveness, Nelson pulled down 15 rebounds against North Platte Community College in 2019-2020. His best offensive day came against LCCC where he netted 22 points.
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Freshman - Forward - Jeremiah Oden (6'8", 180 - Chicago, Ill.)
The Cowboys have traditionally had a pipeline with the Windy City. Jason Straight is from Chicago. So are fellow former UW stars Justin Williams and Brandon Ewing. Could Oden be the next? St. Bonaventure, UMass and Minnesota wanted his services. So did DePaul, Illinois State, Saint Louis, Drake, Valparaiso, UNC-Greensboro, Illinois-Chicago, South Dakota and others. It's easy to see why, too. Oden averaged 10 points and five rebounds per game a season ago at Sunrise Christian Academy. He hit 38 percent of his shots from three. Before playing for Sunrise, who has put more than 80 players in a Division-I school, including former Cowboy Alexander Aka Gorski, Oden starred at St. Rita High School where he averaged 15 points and six rebounds per game.
Junior - Forward - Hunter Thompson (6'10", 235 - Pine Bluffs, Wyo.)
Linder is excited to coach Thompson. How do we know? He mentions him every time he speaks with the media. Why the fixation? 40 and 30. That's Thompson's shooting percentage from the field and from deep, respectively. At 6-feet, 10-inches, Linder thinks Thompson can be a matchup nightmare. He certainly was in the Cowboys final two games in the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas. Thompson went for 14 in a win over Nevada and 17 in a loss to Utah State. He combined to go 6-for-8 from three in those two outings. Eight times Thompson finished in double digits scoring, including a 22-point outburst against Louisiana. He averaged 8.2 points per game and pulled down 4.1 boards per outing.
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Freshman - Guard - Marcus Williams (6'2", 180 - Dickinson, Texas)
Williams, a three-star recruit, was all set to follow Linder to Greeley and Northern Colorado University. When Linder accepted the job in Laramie, Williams followed. One of the top-rated guards in Texas, Williams averaged 21.4 points per game to go along with 7.3 assists at Dickinson High School in the Greater Houston Area. He was ranked the 14th best guard by Texas Hoops. He earned First Team All-VYPE honors. That magazine chronicles Houston preps. MaxPreps.com rated him the 14th best guard in the nation. Williams also received offers from Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State and North Texas.
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Jeff Linder - Head coach
Ken DeWeese - Assistant coach
Shaun Vandiver - Assistant coach
Sundance Wicks - Assistant coach
Riley Grabau - Director of recruiting
Tim O'Flannigan - Director of Operations