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?

 

No. 9 - KEITH BLOOM

Forward, 1947-50, Powell, Wyo.

 

 

Résumé in Laramie

* UW Athletics Hall of Fame inductee in 1997

* Started 72 games

* Played basketball, football and baseball at Wyoming

 

 

Why Bloom?

Keith Bloom is no stranger to our Who Wore it Best series.

He was also our pick for the best No. 82 in Wyoming football history. Not only was he a basketball and football star in Laramie, the Powell product also thrived on the Cowboys baseball team.

Before he arrived in the Gem City, Bloom had never even played the sport. He became a three-year starter on the diamond and led the team in putouts and fielding percentage at first base during his junior and senior seasons. He eventually signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization.

No wonder his UW Athletics Hall of Fame plaque starts with this sentence: "Keith Bloom is one of the last and greatest three-sport athletes at the University of Wyoming."

Bloom suited up for legendary head basketball coach Everett Shelton from 1948 through 1950. The Cowboys went 50-22 overall. Bloom started every single one of those games.

UW punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament in 1949 after finishing the regular season 25-10 overall and with a 15-5 mark in Skyline Conference play. The Pokes ran into second-ranked Oklahoma State in the first round and fell in overtime to the other Cowboys, 40-39. Wyoming did play one more game, dropping a 61-48 decision to Arkansas.

As a senior, Bloom was named the Cowboys' Most Valuable Player. The team went 25-11 and 13-7 in conference play.

After graduation Bloom went on to play professional baseball. He also suited up for the Denver Refiners of the NPBL (basketball). Despite hitting .327 in 1951 for Brisbee-Douglas, Bloom left to become a coach and teacher at Evanston High School. After a two year stint in Uinta County, Bloom returned home to Powell where he taught and coached football, basketball, track and tennis until his retirement in 1992.

 

 

No. 9 - Leslie "Les" Witte

Forward, 1930-34, Lincoln, Nebraska

 

Résumé in Laramie

* UW Athletics Hall of Fame inductee as part of 1933-34 team in 2014

* First All-American selection in UW history

* First UW player to score 1,000 points

 

Why Witte?

Les Witte went by a few names during his time in Laramie. "Beanie" was one nickname. The other was "One Grand Witte." The Cowboys' forward earned that moniker after becoming the first player in school history to net 1,000 career points.

Witte, the younger brother of then head coach Willard "Dutch" Witte, was named a consensus All-American twice at UW. More importantly, he helped lead the Pokes to the 1933-34 Helm's Foundation National Championship during his senior season.

Dutch Witte was inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003 after compiling an overall record of 134-51. He led the Pokes to five Rocky Mountain Conference East Division titles and two outright conference titles. Wyoming won 52 consecutive games against Rocky Mountain East Division opponents in Laramie's famed Half Acre Gym.

There were no official national champions or All-Americans in those days. Helm's retroactively made those decisions. That group of experts said the Cowboys (26-4) were the best. Les Witte, the best of them all.

Witte died on Dec. 23, 1973. He was just 62 years old.

 

 

Who else wore No. 9

Lew Roney (40's), Leroy Rutz (50's), Burt Henningsen (50's), Stan Kouris (50's), Jack Rafferty (50's), Bob McDonald (50's), Bill Wallace (50's)

 

 

Look who wore the No. 8 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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