Former UW Basketball Coach Benny Dees Dead at 86
Former Wyoming Cowboy men's basketball coach Benny Dees has passed away at the age of 86. Dees came to Wyoming as a student-athlete in the late 1950s to play baseball and basketball. He picked up his first head coaching job with VCU in the late 1960s and served as an assistant coach for Western Kentucky, Georgia Tech, and Alabama. He then led New Orleans to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1987.
Dees was hired at Wyoming the following season after Jim Brandenburg left for San Diego State and inherited a team that loaded with talent, namely Fennis Dembo and Eric Leckner. That team ended up 26-6 and ranked 13th in the country. The Pokes won the WAC Tournament in 1988, thanks in part to a miracle shot by Leckner to beat Colorado State at the buzzer. Dees made it to the NCAA Tournament again in that same season but lost to Loyola-Marymount 119-115. That LMU team had the late Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble.
The Cowboys under Dees made the NIT IN 1991 with a win over Butler and a loss to Colorado. His career record in Laramie was 104-77 but was let go after the 1993 season after the Pokes finished 8th in WAC play. He was subsequently replaced by Joby Wright who came in from Miami of Ohio.
Dees could certainly recruit and lured some of UW's biggest stars to campus like Reginald Slater and Theo Ratliff among others. Dees was a fiery guy with a great sense of humor. He ended his coaching career in 2010 as the high school coach for Toombs County in Lyons, Georgia.