UWGB men’s basketball coach Sundance Wicks hired at Wyoming

GREEN BAY – Sundance Wicks had a successful year in his first season as the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay men’s basketball coach, but there will not be a second season.

Wicks has accepted the head coaching position at Wyoming, which began last week when Jeff Linder left to take an assistant job at Texas Tech.

It’s a homecoming for Wicks, who is from Gillette, Wyoming and spent three seasons as an assistant under Linder for the Cowboys from 2020 to 2023 before being hired by UWGB.

UWGB will receive a $705,000 buyout after Wicks recently signed the contract extension, making him the highest-paid coach in school history.

“It’s obviously a dream job,” UWGB athletic director Josh Moon said. “Is the timing bad? No doubt about it, but that’s just how this company is.”

Moon will try to move quickly in replacing Wicks. It’s already late in the offseason and the team has three scholarships remaining as it continues to build its roster for next season.

Current players also have 30 days to enter the NCAA transfer portal. The portal is closed, but the NCAA is granting space to players whose coach leaves for another school.

While anything is possible, Moon doesn’t expect to do a national search like he did last season before choosing Wicks.

“I expect we’ll find out next week,” Moon said. “Getting through today and then joining our team, and then going back and seeing how quickly and effectively we can get this done.”

Moon said he has already been in contact with potential coaches.

He did not rule out any options, including promoting assistant coach Pat Monaghan.

The other finalists from last year’s search also remain available. The list includes former Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky coach John Brannen, radio host and basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb, former UWGB standout Ben Johnson and Hillsdale athletic director John Tharp.

Now that a coach will be in place sooner or later, Moon is hopeful that the new leader will be able to retain as many players as possible.

“That’s the goal,” he said. “I think Green Bay, at least for a lot of guys, means something. Get the carriage out, Green Bay is essentially a special place. They want to be here. I really believe that. Who knows what happens in this world?

“But I think we do have a core group where some of the regional guys want to be at Green Bay. That could change, but I really hope guys want to play for this institution and still want to play for this community.”

The question is also what will happen to the group of current assistants. In addition to Monaghan, it also includes Nic Reynolds, Jordan McCabe and director of basketball operations Adam Owens.

McCabe, the former Kaukauna standout, only joined the team earlier this month and got here in large part because of Wicks.

UWGB’s director of player development, Rahmon Fletcher, will not be returning. That was known before Wicks left. It is believed that Fletcher has accepted another position at a school, although this has not been announced.

Fletcher did not respond to a text message last week about his future.

“You have to put several steps into place here, kind of in the right order,” Moon said about the future of the workforce. ‘So no different from the women’s quest we recently experienced. We’ll find out at the end of this week and where that all ends up.

“Let’s get the leader in place, and then we’ll work on how that staff breaks free, and what Sunny is doing out west and how that staff breaks free.”

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Wicks has spoken occasionally this season about players sticking around at one school to perhaps build a legacy the way former stars like Tony Bennett, Jeff Nordgaard and Keifer Sykes once did.

Now he, like some of the key players he recruited here who entered the portal after the season, is gone after a year.

“Very supportive, it checks all the boxes for him,” Moon said. “But it’s not really about Wyoming. Mountain West is undoubtedly a top five conference in the country. To be able to make such a climb within a year says a lot about Sunny, but also about the work he did here.

“I think you should check it out because the Mountain West is no joke. It’s Wyoming, and on top of that it’s his home state. It’s a place he loves. I know it was hard for him. But he actually skips several steps (on the coaching ladder) to reach this step in the Mountain West.