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As the Western Wyoming Mustangs prepare for the 2013-14 campaign there is a cautious optimism felt by the coaching staff and players alike. Five returners and ten newcomers make up the squad with hopes of improvement after a 9-21 season a year ago in Coach Ryan Orton’s first season with the Western Wyoming program.
At the point guard position the Mustangs went out and signed three players with unique skill sets to improve in an area that was a deficiency in 2012-13. Isaiah Parros (Denver, CO/Highlands Ranch HS) helped lead his team to an Elite Eight finish last year while averaging 11.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.4 apg and 4.0 spg. He set school records in steals for a game (9) and for a season (101). Cameron Epps (Dallas, TX/Allen HS) led the Eagles to the first round of the District Playoffs last year and had averages of 13.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.5 apg and 2.3 spg. Rounding out the trio is Dimitri Saliba (West Valley, UT/Hunter HS) who, after a year away from basketball, impressed the coaching staff last spring while visiting Western. Saliba averaged 16.9 ppg his senior season at Hunter HS.
On the wing is where a good portion of experience lies for Western. Sophomores Daveon Gibson (9.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.1 apg), Jonathon Mines (9.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.5 apg) and Mike Pelo (13.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.8 apg) will be relied upon early and often in their respective second seasons under Coach Orton. Pedro Faria (3.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg) also returns and is capable of playing multiple positions for the team. Newcomers on the wing include Jeremy Head (Nome, AK/Nome-Beltz HS) and Jarred Laws (Anchorage, AK/East HS) who both had outstanding prep careers at their respective high schools in Alaska.
The front line was another area of need which was addressed with the 2013 recruiting class. Dom Williams (3.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg) returns for his second season and has really impressed the coaching staff during fall workouts. In addition to Williams, the Mustangs signed five players 6’6 or taller to add some much needed depth up front. Colton Barnett (Castle Dale, UT/Emery HS) returns to Western after being a key reserve on the 2010-11 team that won the Region IX Tournament and finished seventh at the National Tournament. Newcomers include Stefan Wright (Adelaide, Australia), Jonas Santana (Canary Islands, Spain), Namdi Okonkwo (Allen, TX/Westwind Prep) and Isaac Reimer (Lynden, WA/Lynden Christian HS).
With a challenging non-conference schedule on the horizon which includes games against tough Region 18 teams – Snow College, USU-Eastern, Salt Lake CC and Colorado Northwestern in addition to tournaments at Sheridan College, College of Southern Idaho as well as their own Thanksgiving tournament it will be important for this group to come together quickly to prepare for the always difficult Region IX conference schedule.
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