University of Wyoming Men’s Basketball Manager from Hanna
A University of Wyoming freshman from Carbon County is a manager of the college’s men’s basketball team. Currently the team has seven managers. Four are from Wyoming, with Texas, Nebraska and Colorado being homes to the others.
Wyatt Phillips is from Hanna. He lived there since kindergarten and graduated HEM in 2016 as the school’s valedictorian.
Phillips’ former coach, Cliff Jones who coached him four years in football, basketball and three years in track, said, “He was extremely hard working, a 4.0 graduate, student council president for a couple years and he belonged to many activities: All-State champion in track, All-Conference in basketball.
He was a big part of this school for the past four years.”
Coach Jones said Phillips was very goal-driven and dedicated. He also said being manager of Cowboy basketball team will open doors for Phillips–giving examples of others who had participated in the program and had gone into coaching jobs after school.
“Turning on TV to watch a Cowboy game and seeing Wyatt sitting in the background is sort of neat to see,” Jones said. “Academically, I don’t see this job as being a strain for him because he is committed guy.
“He is a great example of what type of student can come out of small-town schools.”
Phillips is turning 19 this summer. Originally from California, his entire education before university was gleaned in Hanna. Basketball has always been a favorite sport. His junior year in high school, he was All-Conference and during his senior year, he was All-Conference and All-State. Hanna got fourth place in regionals.
This experience helped when he learned of the position from an e-mail that went out to students in his major, “Kinesiology and Health” in Freshman Interest Group. The process started in October. After the first interview, Phillips got the job.
“I went from 1A Wyoming basketball to Division 1 NCAA college basketball and it was a big jump,” he said. “I practice with the team and at five foot ten and most guys are six foot five, it is rough. Still, I was more capable than I thought I was going to be into that bigger setting,” Phillips said.
Scrimmaging with the team is only one aspect of the job.
As manager, Phillips makes sure when the team has games, especially road trips, the players have their gear and are well equipped. He caters to the coaching staff, making sure they are ready for games and practice and also ensures they have water, balls and towels.
“We order travel suits, making sure all the coaches have right sizes and contact the new recruits,” Phillips said. “We have three new recruits coming in next year and we are always on the phone with them asking how they are doing, how is high school.”
Besides being a point man for the recruits and equipment purveyor, Phillips is one of two managers who run the scrimmages or scout team. He is instructed by the assistant coaches on how to drill the players in preparation for a team they are getting ready to play.
“Take for instance when we play Boise State.” Phillips explained. “We will run their plays and get their offensive patterns down; so we are the scout team.
“We take three or four Wyoming players, which are usually red shirts or transfers, who will be Boise State and me and maybe the other manager enacting how Boise State will play.”
Most of the time, Phillips plays a point guard role because of his size, so the opposing player is usually only a few inches taller.
“Obviously I am not as good as the Wyoming players, but I hold my own, even score sometimes,” Phillips said. “I participate in the drills too. For instance in Circle 6, six guys rotate under the rim in the paint for fast breaks using outlet passes and I’m all a part of it.”
Phillips enjoys being a part of the Wyoming basketball system and family. It does take a lot of time being at the practices and taking the trips to other schools. Despite the time commitment, Phillips was on the Dean’s Honor Roll last semester and expects to be on it again this semester.
“It is a great experience.” Phillips said. “I am making tons of connections in the field I am going to school for. Being manager is next closest thing to be able to play in college.”
Phillips said, “When you graduate, you can be put in a graduate assistance program to universities you have interest in and they will pay for your masters degree.”
That is strong incentive for Phillips to keep his grades up.
“I never thought I would be in this position after I left high school. Not being able to play basketball at the NCAA level, this is the next best thing,” Phillips said. “I still get to play basketball while I study, be a part of a team and it helps me realize my dream to coach.”
As for March madness, Phillips believes it is likely Villanova will go the distance, but he would rather see North Carolina or UCLA win the championships.
Next year, Phillips looks forward to the Pokes having an even better season that might have them in the big dance. He will do his best to contribute so they can.