LARAMIE -- Sundance Wicks, admittedly, is a big fan of acronyms.

Undoubtedly, his most popular is BYOJ. That, of course, stands for bring your own juice. It's not just a saying for Wyoming's newly hired head basketball coach, it's a way of life.

It speaks for itself.

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FITS is a new one he introduced Tuesday during a brief introductory press conference. That one means: Feel, intelligence, toughness and skill. That's what Wicks is looking for in a prospective player as he pieces together a new-look lineup in Laramie.

It's just three initials, though, that Wicks' predecessor Jeff Linder brought to the forefront time and time again last winter as a record six Mountain West programs punched tickets to March Madness: NIL.

How does Wicks plan to navigate these uncertain waters where players can now be compensated? He has some ideas.

"We're going to have to find ways to be creative here at the University of Wyoming," the 43-year-old said, referring to the name, image and likeness ruling that was introduced to the college game back in 2021. "We have phenomenal resources, but we have to play Moneyball a little bit. That's like, we're the Oakland A's and the Yankees are out there, right? We're not sitting here trying to compete with the Yankees out there. We're trying to do it the way we need to do it. We're going to think differently."

Moneyball, in a nutshell, means accomplishing more with less.

Tom Burman said in March the school's NIL budget was hovering around $300,000 across all 17 NCAA-sanctioned sports. To be competitive with the top teams in the conference, Wyoming's Athletics Director estimates that number needs to be somewhere between $750,000 to $800,000.

Wicks said the basketball program will create a position on its staff, geared toward NIL advancements, that will be unique to the league. What or who that is remains to be seen. 1WYO, the school's official collective, has also ramped up efforts to place more student-athletes in charitable situations. The university also recently hired Ryan Thorburn as the Director for Communications and creative strategy. His job is to promote and tell the stories of these players.

The Cowboy basketball program has witnessed a mass exodus into the NCAA Transfer Portal the past two seasons, including losing the conference's preseason player of the year Graham Ike, who just completed his first season at Gonzaga.

While NIL has certainly played a role in those eye popping 21 total departures, a few have pointed to their wavering relationship with the former head coach for leaving. Others have expressed a desire to play closer to their hometown. Two incoming transfers reentered after Linder bolted for Texas Tech. So did three incoming freshmen.

No matter the reason, constant roster overhaul has left some in the Wyoming fanbase disinterested, disgusted.

How do you fix that?

"All things considered equal, we're not going to be able to maybe go buy talent or afford talent, however you guys want to call it nowadays," Wicks said. "So, let's make sure we have maximum effort. Let's make sure we think differently about Moneyball, like, where can we win in the margins? Who's undervalued, overlooked and under recruited out there that we can go steal? We can project some things that others won't."

Exhibit A: During his lone season as a Division-I head coach at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wicks turned statistically one of the worst programs in the country into an 18-game winner. That's tied for the ninth best turnaround in the history of the sport.

Part of that transformation, Wicks said, was being visible and letting fans feel "attached" to the program. He added cameras will be permitted in the locker room, allowing fans to celebrate the highs and mourn the lows. The team's social media will be abuzz. His players, he said, will be out in the community. It's a requirement.

Relationships still matter, Wicks added.

"The connection to the state and to the fans, they know I'm going to go to them. That's who I am," the Gillette native said with a laugh, adding that he will travel to all corners of the state. "... You have to go to the people, man. They come down here every single weekend and tailgate for three days -- Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- for football, man. I get it. They're riding for the brand. So we have to go do the same thing and show the love out there. We'll caravan and we'll basketball barnstorm, whatever you want to call it. We'll be out there and we'll go shake some hands and kiss some babies. We'll just start building the army of energy givers, right? That's what we call it. We got to build the army of energy givers.

"But, you have to give to get, right? You have to serve first, knowing that we're not going to expect anything in return. We're going to show it and let the work speak for itself. Ultimately, what always happens in this, the fruits of who we are shine through, how we go about things. People feel a little bit more compelled to maybe support our program in different ways when we're out there, you know, boots on the ground with them in the trenches."

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