James evolving, still growing as a player for Cowboys

Wyoming sophomore guard Justin James, at 6-foot-7, is the Cowboys’ leading scorer this season at 15.3 points per game. All of those points have been off the bench, but James is among the team leaders in minutes at 24.2 per game.

Justin James

Justin James

James often is the Cowboys’ point guard, and of all the players on the team, has the ball in his hands more often than not. A by-product of that is turnovers. His 55 are second-most on the team.

The Port St. Lucie, Florida, product is coming off back-to-back 20-point games, including a game-high 26-point effort in the Cowboys’ 83-74 road win at Air Force last Saturday. James also had a career-high seven assists in that game.

The only other time this season James had consecutive 20-point games was back in late November when he had a career-high 28 at California, and 21 at home against Denver. In those games, James had a combined three turnovers. Against Air Force and the previous game against Boise State, he had nine.

“We’ve been harping on it,” said first-year UW coach Allen Edwards on the turnovers by James this season. “The thing with Justin is he’ll continue to get better. Sometimes he tries to rely on talent, and that’s where he gets into trouble. Sometimes it may not be the ultimate respect for guy guarding him.”

UW (15-9 overall, 5-6 Mountain West) hosts Fresno State (14-9, 6-5) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Laramie. James wasn’t much of a factor in the Cowboys’ 85-70 loss at Fresno State on Jan. 4. He picked up two fouls within the first minute of the game, and finished with just seven points — one shy of his season-low — in just 14 minutes, which was a season-low before he fouled out.

Paul Watson

Paul Watson

Fresno State is one of the more aggressive defensive teams in the MW, and a key matchup in Wednesday’s game could be James against 6-7 senior wing Paul Watson (12.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg) for the Bulldogs. Watson had a game-high 25 points in the first game against UW.

Edwards knows guys with the ball in their hands a lot and who try to make a lot of plays will result in some turnovers. But he also said there have been instances with James and junior forward Hayden Dalton (UW’s second-leading scorer at 12.5 ppg and leader with 63 turnovers), have simply been carless with the ball.

“They’re basically throwing it to them,” Edwards said.

Despite the turnover issues, James has shown signs of the talented player he is now, and can become in Edwards’ mind.

“The last few games Justin has shown what kind of player he is and is capable of of becoming,” Edwards said. “Talent-wise he’s one of the better guys in this league.”

For more UW-Fresno State hoops coverage, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

2 thoughts on “James evolving, still growing as a player for Cowboys

  1. James is the best player by a considerable margin on this team. Hopefully he can heed Edwards’ advise so he can see more court time.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that James played 37 min @ AF and we won. If I were Edwards I would make it priority #1 to play him as much as possible regardless of the TOs. I see a lot of needless TOs by Dalton, but I am OK with the nature of James’ as they happen when he’s being aggressive and trying to score.

    I understand that Edwards’ is trying to bring him along, but it would be hard for me to sit him if I were the coach of this team. Got to live with a few TOs by you alpha dog. If you look at other top dogs from around the MWC they have similar TO to usage %s.

  2. James is the face of the pokes now and in the future. Until recently his offense has been one dimensional but he is getting better about involving the team. This year’s team was a transitional strategy. Shyatt defensive, deliberate offense experienced players giving way to a up tempo new player mentality. I think they have all worked well together . Next year will be an all Edward’s team in only his second year at the helm. The move seems seamless to me and we are winning more than was expected. Go Pokes

Comments are closed.