U.S. Air Force Academy– Hunter Maldonado may wear Wyoming colors, but he calls Colorado Springs home, so the Cowboys trip to take on Air Force is a homecoming of sorts.
“Growing up, coming to some Air Force games, you always see this court,” Maldonado said after Saturday’s game at Clune Arena. “You see all the big guys out there, so coming up, growing up, being able to play on this court is pretty cool, but obviously bittersweet since fans can’t come.”
The former Vista Ridge standout isn’t hard to spot on the court, and it’s not because of his bleached blonde hair. Maldonado’s one of the best players in the Mountain West. He’s averaging just over 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. He said he likes to create for his teammates, and the stats prove it. The Wyoming junior sits in the top three in the conference in assists with 5.3 per game.
“I kind of just like to take what the defense gives me,” he said. “I like to make it as much about the team, not really about me. I can score obviously, but once [teams] start keying down on me I try to get my teammates open and go get extra possessions whether that’s a rebound or creating for someone else.”
The trip home is always special, family in the stands or not. Fans are allowed to attend games at Wyoming, so Maldonado said his family makes the trip up to games, but even for family watching from home, he makes sure one of his biggest fans can see him on television.
“My great grandma doesn’t come to very many games, so she can watch them on tv. She has a little trouble finding me without the blonde tips, but when I have the tips she can definitely see me,” Maldonado said. “I do that every season since sophomore year of high school.”
Maldonado is a redshirt junior. The Cowboys are currently 7-5 on the season.