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Former Cowboy Walters grateful for NBA audition

Former University of Wyoming basketball standout Mason Walters has earned a spot on the Phoenix Suns' Summer League roster. (via UW Athletics)

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Mason Walters was living his American dream this Fourth of July.

The former University of Wyoming basketball standout celebrated the holiday in his hometown of Jamestown, North Dakota, before flying to Phoenix to begin his professional career on the Suns’ NBA Summer League team.

Walters averaged 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists last season for the Cowboys as a graduate transfer, after capping his legendary Jamestown career by being named the NAIA player of the year.

“I’m just really excited and grateful for it all,” Walters said of the opportunity. “It’s a unique and awesome situation.”

Walters decided to use his extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA during the pandemic at UW to test himself at the highest level of collegiate basketball.

The Mountain West sent six teams to the 2024 NCAA Tournament, and Walters accrued valuable experience battling bruising and skilled big men like Boise State’s Tyson Degenhart, Utah State’s Great Osobor and San Diego State’s Jaedon LeDee.

“Being competitive myself, coming from Jamestown to Wyoming and being able to compete against those players and teams was beneficial,” Walters said.

A preseason thumb injury limited Walters to 22 games in a UW uniform. However, his buzzer-beater to force overtime in the Pokes’ epic comeback win over rival Colorado State will forever be part of Border War lore. Jeff Linder and the staff called the play “Fargo” as an ode to his North Dakota roots.

During the pre-draft process, Walters worked out for the Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets. One of his UW teammates, Sam Griffin, auditioned for eight NBA teams but has not yet announced which organization he will sign with for the Summer League.

“That’s one of my really good friends,” Walters said of Griffin, who also finished his college journey with the Pokes after previously playing at UT Arlington and Tulsa. “We got close last year, and I’m really excited for him.”

The Suns’ Summer League roster features Virginia forward Ryan Dunn, whom the team selected with the No. 28 overall pick in the first round.

Phoenix opens play against the Golden State Warriors on July 13 in Las Vegas.