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Sundance Wicks returns to Wyoming as basketball coach after a year in Green Bay

LARAMIE, Wyo. -Wyoming has hired former Cowboys basketball assistant Sundance Wicks from Green Bay to fill its head coaching vacancy.

Wicks went 18-14 and engineered a remarkable turnaround in his lone season in Green Bay after spending three years as an assistant at Wyoming on Jeff Linder’s staff. Wicks takes over for Linder.

In announcing the Wicks’ hiring on Sunday, Wyoming said Linder had resigned “to pursue other opportunities in college basketball.” ESPN has reported that Linder, who went 63-59 in four seasons at Wyoming, is close to a deal to become an assistant on Texas Tech coach Grant McCasland’s staff.

“You cannot put into words what it means for a kid from the back roads outside of Gillette to represent the State of Wyoming and the Cowboys as their new head basketball coach,” Wicks said in a statement.

In his lone season in Green Bay, Wicks won the Joe B. Hall national coach of the year award, given annually to the top rookie head coach in Division I basketball.

Wicks had inherited a Green Bay program that went 3-29 the year before his arrival. The 15-win improvement from 3-29 to 18-14 represented the ninth-largest turnover in NCAA Division I history.

“If there’s one thing I learned growing up in Wyoming, it’s that when you honor the Brown and Gold, you honor so much more than just the University of Wyoming,” Wicks said. “You honor every construction worker who woke up before dawn to work in the coal mines. It means paying respect to the rough and rowdy ranchers who chose the Cowboy way and rode for the brand before it became a popular expression.

“Honoring the brown and gold is realizing that a tap on the cap, a wave of the handlebars, a hard handshake or a big hug is the way you lift your people in support of a day’s hard work.”

Green Bay athletic director Josh Moon said the school has already begun a search for Wicks’ successor.

“We are so grateful and proud of the work Sundance has done during its time in Green Bay,” Moon said in a statement. “He revitalized our program, the university and this entire region, and we will forever be grateful for the mark he left on Phoenix basketball.”

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