UW men’s hoops adds key piece to 2014-15 recruiting class

The verbal commitment of 6-foot-7 versatile guard/forward Justin James may have capped off the best recruiting class the Wyoming men’s basketball program has landed in recent memory.

Granted, all five players committed must sign, and all are supposed to during the early signing period in November.

Here is the full list:

G Austin Conway, 5-10, 165, Overland HS, Aurora, Colorado

F Justin James, 6-7, 180, Oldsmar Christian School, Port Saint Lucie, Florida

F Andrew Moemeka, 6-8, Oldsmar Christian School, Lake City, Florida

F/C Jordan Naughton, 6-10, 220, Etiwanda HS, Rancho Cucamonga, California

F Eric Turner, 6-5, 193, The Villages HS, The Villages, Florida

The class seems to address the future needs of the program. Conway is regarded as one of the quickest point guards in the region — and perhaps in the country. James said Conway is “crazy fast” when I talked to him on the phone Monday.

Turner, who averaged nearly 24 points per game as a junior in high school, seems like a good scorer along the wing. Moemeka and Naughton add size.

Justin James

Justin James

James is the wildcard here because he has played the 1, 2 and 3 spots in high school, and his coaches think he may be able to do that at UW. Whether he does or not remains to be seen, but his versatility is what stands out, and what has made programs like San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico so good in the Mountain West in recent years is players who can play numerous spots on the floor.

Wyoming has not had a lot of players like that in the most recent past.

Here are some video highlights of James as a junior in high school to give you a taste of what I’m talking about:

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

What also has stood out in talking to all five of these commitments is how they — and their coaches — spoke highly of the way UW recruited them. The three Florida kids all said that coach Larry Shyatt and his staff made them feel like Laramie was “a second home” for them.

UW beat Mississippi State for James, and James’ AAU coach — Ben Bridges — said UW “out-worked” Mississippi State.

Bridges said UW assistant coach Allen Edwards called him once or twice a day — every day — over the last few weeks about James. There was similar persistence and care with the others as well.

One would think UW is done with its 2014-15 recruiting, but recruiting is never done. One can never tell if someone on the current roster transfers, and until a recruiting class is signed, it’s best to have a Plan B if someone changes their mind.

I’m not saying that will happen, but don’t expect UW to stop recruiting at this point and time.

For more on James, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.