LARAMIE -- Do you ever see a number on a Wyoming basketball jersey and think of all the great players to wear it?

Yeah, me too.

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In this summer series, I’ll give you my take on which Pokes’ hoopster was the best ever to don each number. The criteria are simple: How did he perform at UW? What kind of impact did he have on the program?

 

Uche Nsonwu-Amadi was named the Mountain West's Newcomer of the Year during the 2000-01 season./ UW Athletics media relations photo
Uche Nsonwu-Amadi was named the Mountain West's Newcomer of the Year during the 2000-01 season./ UW Athletics media relations photo
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No. 5 - UCHE NSONWU-AMADI

Center, 2000-03, Enugu, Nigeria

 

Résumé in Laramie

* 88 games started

* 88 games played

* 12 points per game

* 29.3 minutes per game

* 2000-01 Mountain West Newcomer of the Year

* 2000-01 Second-team All-Mountain West

* 2001-02 Second-team All-Mountain West

* 2002-03 First-team All-Mountain West

* Two-time conference Player of the Week

* Back-to-back Mountain West regular-season champion

 

Why Nsonwu-Amadi?

HL Coleman was salty in the paint. So was Ugo Udezue and Josh Davis. But it hadn't been since the early 90's when a guy named Theo Ratliff protected the rim, that the Cowboys featured one of the most dominant big men in the conference.

That all changed in 2000 with the arrival of Uche Nsonwu-Amadi.

The 6-foot-10, 260-pound native Nigerian (and cousin of Udezue) arrived on the scene just in time to help the Cowboys go on a three-year tear that included 63 victories and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2002.

Was Uche the missing piece to the puzzle? The argument is there.

With shooters like Marcus Bailey, Donta Richardson and Jason Straight, among others, roaming the exterior, and the threat of Davis crashing the glass at any given moment, Uche became the man in the middle, drawing defenders' attention on every trip down the court.

Uche was named the Mountain West's Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore after netting 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per night. He also earned second-team All-Conference honors during the 2000-01 campaign.

After averaging 10.2 points per game as a sophomore, Uche scored a team-high 14 points in a stunning 73-66 upset of Gonzaga in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Albuquerque. The Bulldogs featured a pair of the nation's top forwards in Cory Violette and Ronny Turiaf. Those two combined for just 18 points and eight rebounds against Uche.

The big man with an even bigger smile was named to the Mountain West's First Team after averaging 14.2 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game as a senior.

Uche played professional basketball for 15 seasons before eventually settling down as a real estate agent in the Phoenix metro area. Uche attended the Pokes game at Grand Canyon and in Tucson last season and always keeps an eye on his alma mater.

He really likes Wyoming's latest paint patroller.

"He's so young and has his whole future ahead of him," Uche said of UW sophomore Graham Ike. "He's coachable. He's out there working hard. The conversations we've had are all about trying to get better. Most kids in 2021 aren't mature the way he is. He knows his job and is bent on doing it. That's a great thing."

 

Who else wore No. 5

Joe Schwartz (30's), James Darden (40's), Moe Radovich (50's), Danny Kuska (50's), Ed Luman (50's), John Sharp (50's), Harold Gardner (50's), Gerald Nielsen (50's), Wayne Ward (60's), Todd Barnett (80's), Sly Johnson (90's), Torin Ragin (90's), Anthony Blakes (90's), Tim Henry (00's), Kevin Lewis (00's), Ryan Dermody (00's), Leonard Washington (10's), Trey Washington III (10's), Alan Herndon (10's), Hunter Thompson (10's), Tariq Johnson (10's), Haize Fornstrom (10's), Brendan Wenzel (20's)

 

Look who wore the No. 4 best right HERE.

Check out our "Who Wore it Best" football series right HERE.

All available rosters provided by the University of Wyoming Athletics Department. If we missed a player who wore this number, please email cody@7220sports.com

A number of players wore different jersey numbers during their careers. From the 1930's through the 50's, players were issued a home and an away jersey.

LOOK: Pokes' unis through the years