LARAMIE – Noah Reynolds was on the cusp of being signed, sealed and delivered to Maryville, Missouri.
But when Laramie, Wyoming calls, you have to answer.
Reynolds, a 6-foot-3 freshman point guard from Illinois, was set to play his college basketball at Northwest Missouri State, an NCAA Division II program. Division I was always Reynolds’ goal, but it appeared the Bearcats were going to be the beneficiaries of his services.
Then the transfer portal did what it does best: it turned everything upside down and forced programs to scramble.
The University of Wyoming seemed set at point guard for the foreseeable future with Mountain West freshman of the year Marcus Williams, who dazzled during his first season as a Cowboy. The Houston product entered his name into the portal shortly after the season ended, however, and transferred to Texas A&M.
That left quite the hole in ball handling, given that guard Kwane Marble II also transferred in the offseason.
UW coach Jeff Linder and staff reached out to Reynolds, who hadn’t quite put pen to paper for Northwest Missouri State. And it didn’t take long for Reynolds to seize the opportunity at hand.
Reynolds averaged 15.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game during the 2020-21 season at Notre Dame High.
“If you had told me I was would be playing Division I (a few months ago), I would have told you to get the (heck) out of here,” Reynolds said with a chuckle. “(It’s the) greatest opportunity I’ve ever had in my life.”
While Reynolds knew there would be opportunities for playing time, UW coaches made it clear they were simultaneously looking for a more veteran guard in the transfer portal. Reynolds said Linder was clear nothing was going to be given to him. And, in a way, that’s exactly what Reynolds needed to hear. He has always scrapped for his chances. Why should that change now?
The Cowboys ended up signing junior-college All-American guard Deng Dut from the College of Southern Idaho, in addition to Reynolds.
“I know the coaches believe you can’t guarantee anything … there’s so many unknown factors,” Reynolds said. “Everything is earned at this level. That was intriguing to me.”
The transition to the college game has admittedly been difficult, Reynolds said. It moves a lot faster than high school basketball in Illinois does. Reynolds said one of his biggest advantages on the court is his length. On the other side of the coin is the biggest thing he is working on – his defense.
While he knows his path to playing time might not come overnight, Reynolds is still on Cloud Nine. Because he finally has the opportunity he had been waiting for, even if it’s a little farther from home than he would have liked.
“I don’t think there’s a better fit in the country … I knew that the distance was going to be a challenge … but playing Division I basketball has always been my dream,” Reynolds said. “That’s a message from the higher-ups.”