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UAA hoops assistant heading to Wyoming

Jeremy Peters

Ryan Orton, the top assistant coach for the UAA men's basketball team since 2009, landed a new job Friday when he was named head coach at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, Wyo.

"Ryan is a very professional and detail-oriented guy," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said. "I'm pretty sure he's going to be a success."

The Seawolves enjoyed a lot of success with Orton's assistance, playing to a 64-27 record in three seasons and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two. The good work he put in at UAA helped Orton gain recognition, Osborne said.

"We all go into our profession wanting to get to a leadership position and he's paid his dues a bunch of different places," Osborne said. "I think anytime the assistants move on it's a good reflection on your program. I think it's a compliment to our athletic department as a whole."

Osborne likes to give his assistants a lot of responsibility to help them develop. One of Orton's many duties was recruiting, and he played a big role in bringing three Alaska high school players of the year to UAA -- Travis Thompson of Dimond, Christian Leckband of Nome and Kyle Fossman of Haines. He also helped recruit Taylor Rohde, last season's Division II Bulletin National Player of the Year.

One of Orton's best qualities took place away from the basketball court, Osborne said. He excelled at involving the Seawolves in community events, setting up visits to places like the Children's Hospital at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

Orton evolved as a coach in subtle ways since coming to UAA, but Osborne said he was good when he arrived and proved a great fit on the coaching staff.

"We had similar philosophy on how to play the game, so we were a good team," Osborne said.

The Seawolves are in the process of finding a replacement for Orton, who will take over a Western Wyoming program that finished 23-9 last season and advanced to the playoffs.

"It's a small town, but they take things seriously," Osborne said.

Reach Jeremy Peters at or 257-4335.

Anchorage Daily News