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December 20, 2013

Cowboy basketball inks three

LARAMIE, Wyo. (Nov. 13, 2013) - University of Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt announced on Wednesday that three recruits have signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Cowboy men's basketball program.

Diontae Jones of Las Vegas, Jeremy Lieberman of Calabasas, Calif., and Jonathan Barnes of Parker, Colo., will begin their UW careers during the 2014-15 academic year.

"Our coaching staff is excited about all three of these young men, because we feel like this group can help us in our process of developing a high-level contender in the Mountain West," Shyatt said. "Recruiting is a process and the best way for our staff to sell Laramie and the University of Wyoming is to use us as a litmus test. We chose to return after being places like UCLA and Florida, because we believe in and know we can make a contender here."

Barnes is the sixth native of Colorado that Shyatt has signed in the last three years, including Josh Adams who also hails from Parker. Lieberman joins fellow Californian Keonta Vernon on the Wyoming roster, while Jones in the first Nevadan to sign with the Cowboys since 2009-10.

"As we recruited these three, we really saw that they and their families possess the values that our program deeply believes in on and off the court," Shyatt said. "Diontae, Jeremy and Jonathan can all help us get to where we want to be and what we want to be known for."


Diontae Jones, Forward, Las Vegas

A 6-fooot-6, 185-pound forward, Diontae Jones is one of the top-ranked prep players in the state of Nevada. ESPN.com ranks him as the second-best recruit in the state and the top at his position. Jones will play his senior season this winter at Clark High School under coach Chad Beeten.

As a junior in 2012-13, Jones helped guide the Chargers to a 29-3 overall record, including 10-0 in league play, and the state title game. His 12.8 points per game ranked second on the team, while he paced the Chargers at 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. He shot 50 percent from the field to notch 19 games in double-figure points, including a season high of 27. He earned 12 double-doubles during the season and posted a season-high 16 rebounds twice.

Jones played his AAU basketball for the Las Vegas Prospects. He was also recruited by UC Santa Barbara, Colorado State, Utah and Eastern Washington.

Shyatt on Jones: "We've been recruiting and following Diontae for some time. We have a long, close relationship with Diontae's coach Chad Beeten and his father, Scott. Scott enlightened us about Diontae two years ago and [Scott] Duncan did a great job of keeping those lines of communication open. The more we found out about Diontae and his mother and father and his basketball game, the fit was obvious. We had Diontae and Jeremy Lieberman visit Laramie in early August when our players were here working out for the summer and were able to get early commitments from both, because the timing was so good. Diontae has the potential to play both small forward and power forward. He's been well coached and understands the level of discipline needed in college basketball. We are excited about his abilities on both ends of the floor."


Jeremy Lieberman, Guard, Calabasas, CA

Jeremy Lieberman has helped coach Jon Palarz and Calabasas High School reach new heights during his prep career. A 6-1, 175-pound point guard, Lieberman is ranked as the 32nd-best recruit in California by ESPN.com and was given three stars by Scout.com.

As a junior in 2012-13, Lieberman and the Coyotes went 23-6 overall to advance to the quarterfinals of the section championship. He averaged 18.1 points, six assists and four rebounds per game and had 11 games scoring more than 20 points. During his sophomore campaign in 2011-12, Lieberman helped Calabasas win its first section championship in school history with a 28-4 overall record and 13-1 in league play. He was named the Marmonte League MVP.

Lieberman was also recruited by Gonzaga, St. Mary's, San Diego and UC Davis.

Shyatt on Lieberman: "Jeremy is someone that we also have been recruiting for over two years. We got a chance to see him two summers ago in California and [Jeremy] Shyatt got to know him on and off the court. Jeremy's coach Jon Palarz is someone that I've known since his days in Cleveland, Ohio, when he was the coach at University School. There were some factors that got us involved early and kept us involved. He's always been a lead guard with a high basketball IQ and is very capable of being a high-volume performer during his career at Wyoming. He comes from a great, loving family and is fearless and intelligent in his play, while being able to both score and run the point."


Jonathan Barnes, Center, Parker, CO

Despite playing just two years of organized basketball, Jonathan Barnes has excelled for Ponderosa High School under coach Mike Gibbs. Rivals.com ranks the 6-10, 250-pound Barnes as the ninth-best recruit in Colorado.

As a junior in 2012-13, Barnes averaged 14.9 points and 9.5 rebounds, while shooting more than 65 percent from the field. He recorded career-highs with 25 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks against Pueblo Central in early December and ended the season with six double-doubles.

Barnes played his AAU basketball with the Colorado Hawks and was also recruited by Pepperdine, Utah, Washington State and LaSalle.

Shyatt on Barnes: "Jonathan was a late bloomer to everyone, including himself. He started basketball late at Ponderosa High School and I give a great deal of credit to his coach Mike Gibbs, who believed in Jonathan's future. Kudos to Mike's ability to live with a process. All too many times people want something yesterday instead of working toward a process. Jonathan is a great example. Every time he stepped on the floor last year he got better and better. When Allen [Edwards] and I saw him last summer in Indianapolis against one of the top players in America, it was obvious he has the qualities to become a stopper inside and someone capable at both ends of the floor. At 6-10 and 250 pounds now and still growing, we feel he is someone we really needed to get to the next step in our process of being an annually competitive Mountain West team. In Jonathan's case, as well as with Jeremy and Diontae, the more we found out about their families and their value systems and ability to have balance with basketball and the game of life, he was an excellent fit."



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