Wyoming Cowboys Basketball Officially Opens 2023-24 Season
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- The Wyoming Cowboy basketball team opened practice on Tuesday morning in the Arena-Auditorium, as the Pokes will gear up for their exhibition opener against Metro State on Oct. 27.
Head coach Jeff Linder in his fourth season returns four players from last year’s campaign and welcomes 11 newcomers to the roster.
“We had a great first day of practice along with every other team in the country,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “We will attack every practice knowing that every second counts. With that mentality this team will put itself in position to have a special season.”
The Pokes welcome back one starter in guard Brendan Wenzel. He averaged 7.9 points per game last season along with 3.8 rebounds. Guard Kenny Foster returns and is a veteran presence for the Brown and Gold. He added 4.8 points per game along with 2.4 rebounds. Forward Caden Powell’s role grew towards the end of his freshman season and added 1.9 points and two rebounds per game. In the final half of conference play he added 3.7 points per game and 2.4 rebounds.
Guard Cort Roberson played in four games for the Cowboys.
Wyoming welcomes five transfers with four from four-year schools and one junior college transfer. Guard Sam Griffin averaged 15.2 points per game and 2.7 rebounds at Tulsa.
He nearly has 1,500 career points and has hit 244 career three-pointers. He is joined by another Division I transfer in Oleg Kojenets, who is comes to Laramie from Nebraska and is a native of Lithuania. He played in 18 games last season in the Big Ten.
A pair of transfers from Division II and NAIA will also make an impact. Guard Akuel Kot spent four seasons at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. He earned First Team All-American honors from the NABC last season. He averaged 23.4 points per game last season to rank fourth in NCAA II.
Forward Mason Walters was named the NAIA National Player of the Year last season at the University of Jamestown in North Dakota. Walters was second in the nation in scoring at 26.6 points per game. The forward shot 63.8 percent overall – ranking among the top 20 in the NAIA and 82.7 percent from the foul line. He also averaged 9.4 rebounds per game and blocked 63 shots.
Wyoming also added a junior college transfer in guard Kobe Newton. Newton comes to Wyoming from Fullerton College. He recorded 170 three-pointers in two seasons. This past season, Newton led his team in scoring at 13.7 points per game.
The Cowboys added six freshmen signings to the roster this season.
The group includes two international signees with a native of Canada and Lithuania. Nigle Cook played his prep career at DME Academy in Florida. it is one of the nation’s top prep programs ranking in the Top-10 Nationally. DME is the same school that Keegan Murray the fourth pick in last season’s NBA Draft attended.
Kael Combs comes to Wyoming from Nixa High School in Missouri. He stuffed the stat sheet as a senior averaging 23.4 points per game on the season along with 6.9 rebounds per game and 6.1 assists. He shot an impressive 44 percent from behind the arc.
Cameron Manyawu is another Missouri native playing in the Kansas City area at Staley High School. He led his team to a state title last season with an impressive 30-2 record. He ranked as a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com. He was the ninth best prospect in the State of Missouri and the 53rd best power forward prospect in the nation
Guard Jacob Theodosiou is a native of Waterloo, Ontario, but prepped at Western Reserve Academy in Ohio. He is a rated as a three-star recruit by 247Sports and the seventh-best recruit in the State of Ohio and is a Top-200 recruit in the nation. At Western Reserve Academy, he played with current Cowboy Oleg Kojenets in high school.
Forward Jonas Sirtautas is a native of Kaunas, Lithuania and played for his club team Zalgiris. He was also picked to be a part of the NBA Academy last season in the United States. His father, Darius is a legendary former professional player in Lithuania and is currently one of the nation's top player developers.
Laramie native Levi Brown joined the team this summer as a walk-on. He earned Second Team All-Conference honors He scored a career-high 23 points in the semifinals against Cody to help lead the Plainsmen to the State Championship game for the first time since 2011.
- The Cowboys return four players to the 2023-24 roster including Kenny Foster and Brendan Wenzel. The duo has appeared in 133 combined games in their careers in the Brown and Gold. Caden Powell appeared in 28 games as a freshman.
- The Cowboy roster features 10 newcomers with five transfers and five players from the high school ranks.
- Wyoming’s staff also features two new staff members in Nick Whitmore from the Asheville School, where he served as a head coach at the prep school level and Bryston Williams, who came to UW from Indiana State.
- Wenzel is the top returning scorer at 7.9 points per game. He shot 41 percent from behind the arc last season and has 81 career makes in two seasons at Wyoming.
- Foster has appeared in 75 games for the Pokes with 21 career starts. He has averaged 5.4 points per game in his career.
- Caden Powell saw his minutes jump late last season and made big gains this summer, as he is up over 15 pounds from a season ago.
- Wyoming roster includes international flavor with the second native of Canada to play for the Brown and Gold and the first native of Lithuania.