Whether it was the head coach, the new strength coach or the players, one word comes up when describing how the eight-week summer workout period went for the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team — energy.
“I liked the energy, and especially for the new guys to get them to understand how to work at this level,” third-year UW coach Allen Edwards said. “The returning guys did a great job of setting the tone.”
Workouts wrapped up last week, and most of the players are off campus until the start of the fall semester.
“It definitely was a great summer,” senior point guard Nyaires Redding said. “We got better and took a step in terms of implementing our culture and carrying it out. The energy was great. We have guys here that want to get better, want to win and are eager to learn.”
Whether it was in the weight room or on the court, Allen Edwards said he could find positives from all the players. The time was especially valuable for UW’s seven new guys, and one who stood out to Allen Edwards was 6-foot-5 junior shooting guard Jake Hendricks, a junior-college transfer from the College of Southern Idaho.
“He was really good with how he went about his work, and he surprised me with his ability as a basketball player,” Edwards said.
UW has a new strength and conditioning coach in Marcus Edwards (no relation), who came in from Missouri and replaces Rob Watsabaugh, who is still on the staff, but with a different role. Several UW players made significant gains in terms of adding muscle, and some also had significant losses.
Senior guard Justin James, a first team All-Mountain West selection last season, tested the NBA draft waters after last season, and one of the things he was told to work on was getting bigger.
Marcus Edwards said the 6-7 James started the summer at 181 pounds, peaked at 194 and finished at 192. Allen Edwards said James suffered a hand injury late in the summer, but it isn’t expected to be serious or keep him out of preseason practice.
Some other notable gains/losses from the summer include:
— Sophomore guard Hunter Maldonado gained 14 pounds and is now 200 at 6-7.
— Redshirt freshman forward Hunter Thompson of Pine Bluffs trimmed down from 239 to 231 pounds. Coming off foot and ankle injuries that forced him to redshirt last season, Allen Edwards said Thompson was healthy throughout the summer and did a lot of good things.
— True freshman forward Trace Young started the summer at 172 pounds, but added 10 pounds to his 6-9 frame.
— True freshman forward Brandon Porter, at 6-8, started at 184, but got up to 190.
“We’ve come a long way from June until now, but we still have a long way to go,” Marcus Edwards said. “We can’t be satisfied where we are at. I’m never satisfied, and I feel a lot more needs to be done.”
Added Allen Edwards: “I am more than pleased. I am not a big numbers guy, although that can be a barometer, but I like to go by numbers and eyes. What I loved about this summer was the energy in the weight room, whether it came from Marcus or our guys.”
Allen Edwards said a few guys “got banged up” over the summer, but none of the injuries are serious or will keep players out before preseason practice.
Edwards said junior guard A.J. Banks, a junior-college transfer, didn’t participate in the summer due to a knee injury. Edwards added Banks recently began running.
True freshman Bradley Belt, a 6-4 guard from Washington Academy in Greenville, North Carolina, isn’t with the team. UW is working with the NCAA to clear up some academic issues.
Allen Edwards said there is a chance Belt could be on campus for the fall semester, or in December after the fall semester is complete. If those scenarios don’t work out, Edwards said Belt could attend a junior college.
The last signee of UW’s 2017-18 recruiting class was 6-7 forward Lwal Dung from Neosho County Community College in Kansas. UW also is working with the NCAA to clear up some academic issues.