LARAMIE -- Do you ever see a number on a Wyoming basketball jersey and think of all the great players to wear it?

Yeah, me too.

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In this summer series, I’ll give you my take on which Pokes’ hoopster was the best ever to don each number. The criteria are simple: How did he perform at UW? What kind of impact did he have on the program?

 

Kenneth Ollie helped lead the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament in 1981./ UW Athletics courtesy photo
Kenneth Ollie helped lead the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament in 1981./ UW Athletics courtesy photo
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No. 20 - KENNETH OLLIE

Forward, 1977-81, Birmingham, Ala.

 

Résumé in Laramie

* 109 games played at UW

* 11.1 points per game

* One of 38 players to score more than 1,000 career points

* NCAA Appearance in 1981

 

Why Ollie?

"Despicable."

That's the label BYU head coach Frank Arnold placed on Wyoming fans in 1981 after the Cowboys outlasted the 15th-ranked Cougars 86-84 in double overtime.

The War Memorial Fieldhouse was a house of horrors for visitors. That season, Charles "Tub" Bradley, Bill Garnett and our selection for the best No. 20 in Wyoming basketball history -- Kenneth Ollie -- never lost a game in that intimidating home venue.

That classic matchup will be remembered for a number of reasons: Danny Ainge, flying debris and boisterous taunts, and most importantly, all but dashing the Cougars hopes of claiming a WAC Championship.

Fans flooded the court after that improbable victory, which saw the Pokes erase a late deficit to force the first overtime.

The Cowboys won their last six games of the regular season, including stunning No. 7 Utah 53-50 in Laramie two nights after knocking off BYU. The Pokes and Utes were dubbed co-conference champions.

No. 17 Wyoming was heading to the NCAA Tournament.

Ollie, who averaged a near double-double during his collegiate career, help lift the Cowboys over Howard 78-43 in the opening round, but a heartbreaking 67-65 setback against No. 19 Illinois ended UW's tourney run that season.

It almost never happened in the first place.

Ollie and Bradley came to Laramie under head coach Don DeVoe, who left for Tennessee following that duo's freshman season.

Would they stay or would they go?

Jim Brandenburg, Wyoming's new head coach, made them an offer they couldn't refuse.

"I told them if they stay with me, they'd win a conference title before they left," he told the Denver Post of his sales pitch.

They stayed put. They won a title.

They also laid the foundation for the team to once again punch its ticket to the Big Dance the following season. Wyoming knocked off USC in the opening round, 61-58. No. 6 Georgetown would end their run two days later with a 51-43 victory.

Ollie, a Birmingham, Ala., product, is still seventh on UW's all-time rebounding list with 833. He's tied for ninth in rebounding average with 7.6 per game. Ollie is also ninth in career double-doubles with 24.

Ironically, Ollie was selected by the Utah Jazz with the 188th pick of the 1981 NBA Draft.

Check out some more stories about the Wyoming-BYU rivalry right here:

* BYU, Wyoming officials take steps to patch up old wounds

* Cougs prepare for War: Players warned to keep helmets on at all times 

* Love or hate? Reunion with Wyoming in bowl game will feature both

* Clean, sober and insufferable - Sports Illustrated

 

Honorable mention

Hayden Dalton (2015-18) is another member of the 1,000-point club, netting 1,156 in just three seasons in Laramie.

The 6-foot-8 forward from Parker, Colo., averaged 11.7 points per game during his career. That number vaulted to 17.7 during his senior campaign.

Dalton was named an All-Mountain West honorable mention as a junior. The next season he jumped to the second team. He was also named the conference's Player of the Week twice.

The Central Wyoming College transfer parlayed a strong finish to his collegiate tenure into a professional basketball career overseas. Dalton currently plays for the Hapoel Holon Club in Israel.

Robyn Davis (1987-89) deserves a nod here, too.

The Missouri transfer averaged 14.7 points per night for the Cowboys and earned Second Team All-WAC honors after his senior season. A member of Benny Dees initial recruiting class at UW,  Davis entered a team coming off a Sweet 16 appearance the year prior. The Cowboys would once again roll to a 26-6 record and play in the NCAA Tournament.

This time, that run would end in the first round after a 119-115 loss to No. 15 Loyola-Marymount.

Davis played professional basketball until 2002, making brief NBA stops in Indiana and Houston, before eventually heading to Brazil.

Joseph Taylor (2006-08) is another player who made his mark in just two seasons in the Gem City. The gritty, aggressive forward is still ranked fourth in blocked-shot average with 1.4 per outing.

The Los Angeles native is also still ranked 10th in single-season field-goal percentage with .585 during the 2007-08 campaign.

Taylor enjoyed a lengthy career overseas.

Maurice Alexander (1990-92) is another impactful player who deserves some kudos in this space. "Mo" netted 49 of the Cowboys' 68 points in a home win over New Mexico in 1991. That is till the third-most points in a game in school history.

Alexander is also in the Top 10 in single-season steals (7th-58), steal average (10th-1.8), assists (5th-147), assist average (4th-4.1) and 3-point field-goal percentage (10th-69 makes in 1990-91). He also dished out 10 assists in a pair of games, which still ranks the sneaky guard eighth in program lore.

The Chicago product averaged 15.3 points per game during his two seasons in Laramie. He added 4.5 assists and 3.4 boards per game to that stat line.

Alexander had brief stints with the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. He later played in Winnipeg and Halifax in the CBA and Rockford and Oklahoma City in the NBL.

 

Who else wore No. 20

Dave Clements (50's), Tony Windis (50's), Maynard Lang (60's), Wade Lang (60's), Tom Shields (60's), Reuben Poindexter (60's), Vern Ryan (60's), Terry Delp (60's), Roy Wilson (60's), Bruno Konopka (70's), Mark Gustafson (70's), Ernest Ivory (70's), John Robinson (70's), Cliff Allen (70's), Sean Dent (80's), Oliver Wilson (80's), Tim Remme (80's), Maurice Alexander (90's), Aaron Smith (90's), Pasha Bains (90's), David Rottinghaus (00's), Joseph Taylor (00's), James Dean (00's), Nathan Sobey (10's), Terrin Dickey (20's)

 

Look who wore the No. 19 best right HERE.

Check out our "Who Wore it Best" football series right HERE.

* All available rosters provided by the University of Wyoming Athletics Department. If we missed a player who wore this number, please email cody@7220sports.com

* A number of players wore different jersey numbers during their careers. From the 1930's through the 50's, players were issued a home and an away jersey.

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