James Returns to Cowboys Hoops for Senior Season

LARAMIE, Wyo.  – The University of Wyoming basketball program got a shot in the arm Wednesday.

Guard Justin James announced he will return to the Cowboys for his senior year, withdrawing from the NBA draft.

James, who averaged 31.2 minutes in his 32 games and the Cowboys with 98 assist and average 18.9 points per game, is the only returnee among the four primary members of the Cowboys starting lineup last season. Forwards Hayden Dalton and Allen Herndon graduated. Point guard Cody Kelly transfered to South Dakota for his final two years to work on his masters and play basketball.

The fifth most frequent starter was Hunter Maldanado, who also returns after starting 19 of the Cowboys 33 games and averaging 21.2 minutes. Other returning players are guard Ny Redding, who averaged 13.9 minutes in 32 games, and forwards Austin Mueller, who averaged 6.5 minutes in 13 games, and Jordan Naughton, limited by an injury to an average 6.9 minutes in nine games.

“I’m extremely excited to announce I will be returning to Wyoming for my senior season,” James said.  “I’m very grateful for the opportunities and feedback I have received from NBA executives over the last month. But now I will focus on leading the Brown and Gold in competing for a Mountain West Championship in my final season.”

James announced he was declaring for the NBA Draft on March 26, without signing with an agent. He participated in private workouts with numerous NBA franchises before deciding to return to Wyoming.

“I received some very promising feedback from around the NBA,” James said. “I will continue to grow my game here in Laramie and put myself in position to live my dream and play at the next level following one more season playing for the Cowboys.”

In addition to James, the Cowboys return guards Hunter Maldanado and Nys Redding, and forwards Jordan Naughton and Austin Mueller in addition to red-shirt freshman forward Hunter Thompson.

They're Back

Player, Class Pos Gs Avg. Min Avg. Asts Rebs Avg.
Justin James, Sr Guard 32 31.2 18.9 98 191 6
Hunter Maldonado, Soph Guard 29 21.2 5.3 41 63 2.2
Nys Redding, Sr Pt Guard 32 13.9 3.7 42 33 1
Jordan Naughton, Sr Forward 9 6.9 2 0 11 1.2
Austin Mueller, Soph Forward 13 6.5 1.1 1 6 0.5
Hunter Thompson, RS Fr Forward RS RS RS RS RS RS

The Cowboys also signed seven players for the 2018-19 season. They signed junior college point guard A.J. Banks and shooting guard Jake Hendricks, and five prep school products Tarig Johnson, a shooting guard, Bradley Belt, a point guard; shooting forwards Brandon Porter, Trevor Taylor and Trace Young, who have four years of eligibility.

Name Ht Wt Class Hometown Last School
Shooting Guards
Jake Hendricks 6-5 180 Junior Smithfield, Utah College of Southern Idaho
Tariq Johnson 6-5 200 Freshman Stevensville, Md. Mt. Zion Prep, Md.
Point Guards
Bradley Belt 6-4 205 Freshman Huntsville, Ala. Washington Academy, N.C.
A.J. Banks 6-2 175 Junior Las Vegas, Nev. Pratt College, Ks
Shooting Forwards
Brandon Porter 6-8 190 Freshman Virginia Beach, Va. Washington Academy, N.C.
Trevor Taylor 6-6 185 Freshman Chesapeake, Va. Hillcrest Prep, Az.
Trace Young 6-9 210 Freshman Owensboro, Ky. Mt. Zion Prep, Md.