Who will the Cowboys have on the court this winter?

May 10—LARAMIE — For the second consecutive season, Jeff Linder has been tasked with essentially building a brand new roster from scratch.

Linder, who's going into his fifth season as the University of Wyoming men's basketball coach, has just three returning scholarship players from last year's roster. That includes guards Kobe Newton and Nigle Cook and forward Oleg Kojenets, who all played in reserve roles last season.

Like most other mid-majors in the country, the Cowboys were gutted via the transfer portal again this offseason. UW lost a pair of promising rising sophomores in guard Kael Combs and forward Cam Manyawu, the latter landing at Drake University after averaging 7.5 points and 6.7 rebounds at UW last season.

Combs is the lone outgoing transfer that has yet to sign with a new team. He averaged 2.7 points in 10.4 minutes, but found his stride in a reserve role at the tail-end of the season before hitting the portal last month.

UW lost two starters to the portal, including veteran guard Brendan Wenzel and forward Caden Powell. Wenzel recently paired up with former UW teammate Noah Reynolds at Texas Christian University, while Powell landed at Rice.

Wenzel averaged 11.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 35.5 minutes last season, while Powell added 5.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in 20.5 minutes of action.

The Cowboys graduated their other three starters, guards Sam Griffin and Akuel Kot and forward Mason Walters. All three transferred to UW last summer with one year of eligibility, finding spots in the starting rotation immediately.

Guard Jacon Theodosiou (Loyola) and forward Jonas Sirtautas (Radford) also signed elsewhere after leaving the Cowboys.

Guard Kenny Foster elected not to return after five seasons in Laramie.

With 10 open scholarships, Linder and his staff hit the portal hard. The Cowboys have signed nine new players to next year's class so far, including five incoming transfers and four incoming freshmen.

Incoming transfers

The incoming transfers include forwards Yuto Yamanouchi-Williams (Portland), Touko Tainamo (Denver) and Matija Belic (UC Santa Barbara), and guards Tyree Ihenacho (North Dakota) and Obi Agbim (Fort Lewis College).

Yamanouchi-Williams is a 6-foot-10, 230-pound Japan native who transferred to Portland from Lamar as a sophomore. He averaged 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20.1 minutes last season.

"He brings great front-court versatility to the table," Linder said in a news release. "His combination of size, length and skill will provide options up front. He has a great nose for the ball, and consistently rebounds at a high level.

"His capacity to move and switch gives us exceptional flexibility on the defensive end of the floor. Yuto's best basketball is in front of him, and we can't wait to be a part of his continued development."

Tainamo is a 6-foot-9, 220-pound big who averaged 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds while earning All-Summit League honors as a junior last season. The Finland native comes to UW with one year of eligibility remaining.

"Touko is a highly skilled and versatile player who presents mismatch problems for opponents with his ability to score effectively from both the perimeter and the paint," Linder said. "He is a proven winner who brings with him tremendous character and enthusiasm."

Belic is a 6-7, 205-pound wing from Serbia and comes to UW with two years of eligibility remaining. He spent the past two seasons at Santa Barbara, appearing in 52 games, with nine starts. Belic averaged 3.9 points in 15.1 minutes last season, adding 2.4 rebounds.

"Matija has competed at the highest level of international basketball in Serbia and has great experience here in the United States," Linder said. "He is a big, versatile wing who has tremendous basketball IQ and feel.

"Matija's skill set will allow him to hit the ground running in the Mountain West."

Ihenacho is a 6-4, 190-pound guard from Prior Lake, Minnesota. He comes to UW with one year of eligibility after spending time at North Dakota and James Madison. He earned second team All-Summit league honors a season ago.

Ihenacho averaged 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last year. He spent his freshman season at North Dakota, earning Summit League freshman of the year honors. Ihenacho transferred to James Madison for his sophomore and junior seasons, playing in 39 games with 22 starts. He returned to North Dakota as a senior.

"Tyree is a skilled playmaker with a lot of pop to his game," Linder said. "He's a proven guard who has already had a successful four-year run in college. Tyree's ability to get downhill and put pressure on the defense will add great value to our backcourt."

Agbim is a 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard who spent two seasons at Fort Lewis College, one at Northeastern Junior College and one at NCAA Division II Metro State in Denver. Last season, Agbim earned first team All-South Central Region and first team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference honors.

Agbim was also named the RMAC tournament most valuable player. He averaged 15.5 points per game, along with four rebounds and 2.9 assists.

In the RMAC championship game, Agbim recorded a career-high 33 points and was 10-of-12 from the field. He scored 20 or more points seven times last season.

"Obi is a gifted playmaker who provides tons of versatility and athleticism at the guard spot," Linder said. "His explosive scoring, as well as his ability to make the game easier for his teammates, provides great value to the program. Obi is an elite mover on the floor who can erupt for a highlight play on any given possession."

Incoming freshmen

UW's incoming freshman class includes guards Dominic Pangonis (Burlington, Ontario) and Jehvion Starwood (Oswego, Illinois), wing Olver Faubert (Ottawa, Ontario) and forward Dylan Warlick (Edmond, Oklahoma).

Pangonis is listed at 6-foot-5 and was named the third-best recruit in Ontario by He was recruited by Bradley, Drexel, Brown and Old Dominion.

"Dom brings great size, length, shooting and athleticism to the program," Linder said in November. "He has a motor that doesn't stop running, and is always looking to make the winning play. He also has an innate ability to process the game quickly and effectively, to make plays that not every player sees."

Starwood, a 6-foot-3 guard, is the No. 15 recruit in Illinois, and listed him as the No. 42-ranked guard in the class. He led his team to a sectional championship and a 29-6 record as a junior at Oswego East High.

He was also recruited by Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Miami of Ohio, San Jose State and Denver.

"Jehvion brings a blend of elite athleticism, playmaking ability and size to the lead guard position," Linder said. "His upside and bright future make him such an exciting prospect.

"When you add in his ability to get to spots and create angles that may not have been easily apparent with his explosiveness, you have big plays just waiting to happen. He possesses a great ability to score the ball at all three levels, and a willingness to make the right play for his team."

Warlick, a 6-foot-5 forward, is ranked as the second-best recruit in Oklahoma by He averaged more than 20 points per game as a sophomore, and as a junior scored 15.1 points and added 8.4 rebounds per game.

He was recruited by Davidson, San Jose State, South Alabama and Abilene Christian.

"Dylan has been on our radar for some time after a great underclassman career in Oklahoma high school basketball," Linder said. "Having won multiple state championships at Edmond North High School, in the highest classification in Oklahoma, we knew there was something special about his will to win and ability to effect winning — two traits that cannot be discounted.

"We loved his ability to elevate not only himself, but his teammates and program, as well."

Faubert stands at 6-9 and 205 pounds and is listed as a three-star recruit by He also received offers from Arizona State, Ole Miss and Seton Hall.

Linder has one scholarship left to fill going into next season.

Alex Taylor is the assistant editor for WyoSports and covers University of Wyoming athletics. He can be reached at Follow him on X at @alex_m_taylor22.