Wyoming basketball players use apartment to bond, avoid trouble

2013-08-01T12:15:00Z 2013-08-02T09:56:05Z Wyoming basketball players use apartment to bond, avoid troubleBy MIKE VOREL Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online
August 01, 2013 12:15 pm  • 

It’s Laramie’s hottest night club — and you’ve probably never heard of it.

It’s exclusive; no more than 10 or 12 people are ever allowed in.

Its hours are unorthodox. The music cuts at midnight, and the guests shuffle out.

If you haven’t been invited, then you’re not a Wyoming Cowboy.

Simply put, it’s “624.”

After a 2012 season clouded by an off-the-court incident that derailed a sizzling start, Wyoming teammates and roommates Derek Cooke Jr. and Charles Hankerson Jr. decided that perhaps downtown Laramie was not the best place to spend weekend nights.

They wanted to be able to blow off steam with their teammates without risking the trouble that usually comes with bars, drinks and high-profile athletes.

And so, like Bruce Wayne becoming Batman, they transformed their apartment into something greater — a symbol.

“624” was born.

“Me and [Hankerson] Jr. kind of started it. It’s not always good for us to go downtown, so we figured we’d have our own fun,” Cooke said. “So we invite our teammates and friends over to our apartment, make sure it’s before quiet hours and just have a good time.”

You could say that it’s still just an apartment with a glossy title, and you’d be right. But tell that to Cooke and Hankerson, and you’ll be met with hostility. Their roles are defined, and the guest list is established.

“624” isn’t just an apartment number. It’s a state of mind.

“It’s me and junior; we run it. I’m like head honcho, and he’s my partner in crime,” Cooke said. His smile widens as he discusses his creation. “We got my lil bro Trey [Washington]. I call him my little brother. Alan [Herndon] and Keonta [Vernon] also come through. We try to involve all of our teammates.”

It isn’t an accident that the regulars at “624” are also freshmen. Many students in a new town struggle to find friends and acclimate themselves to unfamiliar surroundings.

From the first minute Vernon, Washington, Herndon and Co. stepped on campus, though, they were given a second home.

“The freshmen are over every day,” Cooke said. We’ve never gotten Nate [Sobey] to come over. He doesn’t come over to the house. Nate doesn’t like it.”

About 20 feet away, just barely within earshot, Sobey practices free throws after the conclusion of a summer workout. Smiling, he turns and yells, “No!” in Cooke’s general direction.

Sobey clearly isn’t a regular. At least, not yet.

In reality, nothing extraordinary happens at “624.” Teammates and friends listen to music and talk. Video games are contested as controllers are passed from teammate to teammate.

And once midnight hits, quiet hours are in effect and the apartment goes dark.

It sounds unremarkable, but it all depends on who you ask.

“It’s always fun,” Herndon said. “There’s never a dull moment at ‘624.’”

But while the entire team has an open invitation to the apartment, Sobey isn’t the only one that rarely makes an appearance. Redshirt senior Jerron Granberry admits that he’s never stepped inside the team night club, although his reasoning has nothing to do with the guys that run it.

“I don’t go out there, it’s too far for me. But yeah, those are great guys, like I said. They’re always inviting everybody,” Granberry said. “There’s no cliques. It just happened that those two guys live together, and they’re probably the two clowns of the team. They’re always making people laugh. It’s just a joy to be around them.”

And so, “624” continues to open its doors daily to the Wyoming Cowboy basketball team. It may lack the flash and bravado of some more high profile clubs, but that’s not what matters.

As long as “624” keeps the team out of trouble, it’ll remain the place to be.

And as the season slowly approaches, Cooke continues to badger the rest of his teammates to join in on the growing sensation.

As Sobey continues to shoot, Cooke walks past him and leaves him with a guarantee.

“Nate, you’re going to come through one of these days.”

Reach reporter Mike Vorel at Mike.Vorel@trib.com.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick