Elijah Leyva has more reliable long-distance service than the post office and his eye-opening jump shooting has landed him at Northwest College.
Leyva, a two-time, All-State basketball guard for Cody High School, will continue his hoops and school educations for the Trappers this fall.
“That’s the plan,” Leyva said. “I liked the new coach.”
The NWC men’s basketball program has undergone recent transition. Athletic director Brian Erickson was the long-time former coach.
When Erickson was promoted last year he was replaced by interim coach Dawud Abdur-Rahkman. His successor, starting this coming season, is Jay Collins.
Leyva, known for his high scoring, three-point jumpers, drives to the basket and his quickness, is 5-foot-10. While he said he had an opportunity to play out of state, he wanted to remain in Wyoming.
Previously from Worland, Leyva spent his last two high school years in Cody.
During the 2017-18 season, when the Broncs were state 3A runners-up he averaged 14.7 points per game. Last winter, as the Broncs moved to 4A, Leyva led the state in scoring with a 25.7 ppg average while hitting 79 percent of his free throws and shooting 43 percent from the field.
Leyva investigated Wyoming’s other junior college programs, but said by May he had decided on sticking near home with Northwest.
That was after discarding the option of playing at a Kansas school.
“He’s looked at other possible opportunities, but his heart is in Wyoming,” said Leyva’s Cody coach Jacob Kraft. “I think Northwest is the best fit for him. It checks a lot of boxes.”
Initially, Leyva spoke to Abdur-Rahkman, but when his contract was not renewed Erickson told Leyva to sit tight. Leyva made his final choice after Collins was hired.
“He’s a good guy,” he said.
Leyva is not tall for college basketball and he and Kraft recognize the physical nature of play at a higher level involving bigger guys may require adjustment.
“I think Elijah is pretty shifty,” Kraft said. “I think he will have opportunities to get to the rim.”
He may pass more off those drives, but his outside shooting range presents danger to opposing defenses.
“I think Elijah will be a pretty versatile point guard,” Kraft said. “I always thought he could space the floor. The physicality will be his biggest challenge.”
Basketball teams tend to exaggerate height listings on rosters, so even if Leyva stays at 5-10 he may suddenly appear in print as 5-11 or even 6 feet tall.
This summer Leyva is playing second base for the Cody Legion baseball team. He said some schools felt him out about playing that sport in college, but he did not spend much energy on that idea.
“Basketball is my love,” Leyva said.