Will Wyoming’s Graham Ike be Cleared to Play This Season?
LARAMIE -- Will Graham Ike play this season?
It appears the clock is ticking on that decision.
Wyoming head coach Jeff Linder said Monday the Cowboys' forward is making progress but his chances of returning to hardwood this season are "still to be determined."
When asked if he believes the 6-foot-9, 255-pound junior will see action, Linder said he's holding out hope.
"It's what's best for him and it's what's best for him moving forward in his career," UW's third-year head coach added. "... If the opportunity presented itself, he's a guy that, he'd like to play. But at the same time, too, we're not going to jeopardize his future to just come back for a handful of games."
Ike, who was named the preseason Mountain West Player of the Year, suffered a right lower-leg injury in early November, just three days before the team's season opener against Colorado Christian. Linder announced he could miss anywhere from "6-to-8 weeks."
That deadline has come and gone. So has the black walking boot Ike used to sport on the bench.
"If we see here in the next week or so -- or couple of weeks -- if things go according to plan, there might be a possibility (he could play) but that's a decision that's completely up to him."
Ike averaged nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds last season while helping lead Wyoming to the First Four of the NCAA Tournament. He earned First Team All-Mountain West honors and was the league's second-leading scorer. The Aurora, Colo., product scored in double-figures in 32 of his 33 outings during the 2021-22 season. Nine times he eclipsed the 25-point mark in a game, including sinking a game-high 35 in a win over Denver.
Ike was named the Lute Olson National Player of the Week after dropping 28 points and pulling down 12 rebounds against Utah State then following that up with a 25 and 18 game against San Jose State.
In other injury news, Linder said guard Brendan Wenzel is still "day-to-day" with a knee injury but is "coming along" and could be cleared as early as this week. Kenny Foster, who recently had a procedure on his back, could also return to the floor in as early as two weeks.
Hunter Maldonado exited the Cowboys' last game at UNLV twice, once holding his right knee and the other holding his lower back. Linder said he will play Tuesday night.
Wyoming is currently 6-14 overall with a 1-7 mark in conference play. Fresno State will pay a visit to the Arena-Auditorium Tuesday night for an 8 p.m. tipoff. The game will be televised on FS1.