Wyoming Basketball Preview: Forwards/Centers

by Basketball

This is part three of our 2011-2012 Wyoming basketball preview, in part one the coaches were discussed  and in part two the guards were previewed. Today we focus on the forwards and centers on this year’s team.

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown
5 Leonard Washington F 6-7 235 R-Jr. Lake Charles, LA
11 Afam Muojeke F 6-8 210 Sr. Jamaica Queens, NY
15 Adam Waddell C 6-10 235 Sr. Cody, WY
22 Larry Nance Jr. F 6-7 205 Fr. Richfield, OH
24 Tyrone Marshall F 6-8 220 Fr. Denver, CO
30 Rob Watsabaugh F 6-7 210 R-Sr. Jackson, WY

The Cowboys return three big men from last years active roster with Afam Muojeke, Adam Waddell, and Rob Watsabaugh all back for their senior seasons. Additionally, USC transfer Leonard Washington who was on last year’s roster but did not play due to transfer rules is eligible to play this season. Two newcomers join the returning group and each of them should see some time in coach Shyatt’s rotation this season and there would have been a third but Lekan Ajayi left the program abruptly just last week. Follow us after the jump to get the low down on this year’s Wyoming Cowboys in the paint.

At the small forward position the Pokes will be hoping for a healthy and productive Afam Muojeke who has dealt with knee injuries the past few seasons. When healthy Muojeke is as good as anyone in the Mountain West as can be seen in his pre-injury statistics. In his record breaking freshman season Muojeke averaged 13.8 points a game and followed that up with 17.9 points a game his sophomore season through January before he injured his knee. Muojeke was rushed back last year and had to undergo another knee operation but did average 7.7 points a game before going out with injury. He is now healthy (supposedly) and if the Pokes can get starting minutes out of him as the season goes on Muojeke should easily score double figures. Backing-up Moujeke should be freshman Larry Nance Jr. who Shyatt is very high on. Nance had a tremendous high school senior season leading his team to a 21-2 record and if he can catch on to the speed of the college game he could split minutes with Muojeke. Nance is more of an outside player though and can’t slide over to the power forward spot as Muojeke has done in the past. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see guards Paco Cruz or Luke Martinez get some playing time at the small forward position when the Pokes want to go with a smaller and quicker line-up.

The power forward position this year will be manned by Leonard Washington who should add a bit of grit and toughness that this team has been lacking.  Washington will be a key player and can be expected to provide some scoring down low as well as do a good job in the rebounding department. Word is Washington is very motivated and is ready to prove he is not a problem player as we was characterized as at USC. Backing up the former Trojan is freshman Tyrone Marshall who was a canidate to be redshirted this season before Ajayi left the program. I do not see how that can be possible now unless Shyat trusts Rob Watsabaugh to play significant minutes this season. I would heavily bet against that but you just never know. Afam Muojeke could also see some time at the power forward position when the Pokes go small.

The Cowboys only have one true center on the roster in Adam Waddell with Lekan Ajayi leaving the program before the start of the season. The often injured Adam Waddell is a quality player when healthy but injuries to his feet and ankles have taken their toll and the Cowboys may never again see him at 100%. Waddell is a high energy Wyoming bred player who the fanbase really likes and it would be great to see him have a healthy and productive senior season.  With no true back-up center on the roster I would look for Shyatt to run a small line-up with just one big man on the floor at a time (Waddell or Washington) quite a bit. This will especially be true if the Cowboys run the fast paced system Shyatt would like to run.

Overall, this is an intriguing group of front court players but with the only two truly proven players in Muojeke and Waddell both having injury concerns it is hard to gauge how good they can be as a unit. If Muojeke and Waddell can play starters minutes once conference season rolls around the Pokes should be in really good shape but that may be asking too much. The health of Muojeke and Waddell and the ability for the new players to adjust to the college game quickly will determine how good the Pokes are down low this season.

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Topics: 2011-2012, Adam Waddell, Afam Muojeke, Basketball Preview, Larry Nance Jr, Larry Shyatt, Lekan Ajayi, Leonard Washington, Luke Martinez, Paco Cruz, Rob Watsabaugh, Tyrone Marshall, Wyoming Basketball

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