GOLDEN — Trevor Wages is a home-grown kid. All 6-foot-9, 255 pounds of him. He’s one who likes to stay close to home. It is the best place he could be.
But who is the Colorado School of Mines men’s basketball player?
“Just a non-stop hustle, non-stop work (guy). I’m fierce, always competitive who doesn’t like to lose. I like to win. I’m a winner,” Wages said.
The mechanical engineering student is also Colorado School of Mines’ main source on the basketball floor this season. Wages has to be after the graduation of four seniors from last year’s 29-3 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship squad, which reached the regional finals. One of those seniors was Wages’ low-post mentor Dale Minschwaner, who was second on the team in points with 14.1 per game and rebounding 229 last season. Mines also lost its top scorer from a season ago — senior guard Brett Green — due to a preseason knee injury. He will miss the entire season.
“I have to do what I have to do,” said Wages, who leads the 7-2 Orediggers with 19.5 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. “Right now, our team needs me to be the one to step up and lead in points. That’s what I’m going to do. Anybody could be the main scorer for the night. It just so happens I’ve been it so far.”
He has led the team in scoring six times this season, a year after he was fifth on the team in scoring with 8.5 points per outing. But his offensive production has been just as much about necessity — due to the team’s losses — as it is of Wages’ own desire to be a leader.
“He was going to take more of a scoring role anyway with the loss of those really good seniors that we had last year,” Mines head coach Pryor Orser said. “Obviously when Trevor wants to play he wants to be aggressive. We really feel he’s one of the best post players in the nation. He proves it when he’s ready to play, ready to compete. He’s a force. He’s physical in the post with his jump-hook game. He’s relentless.”
He’s an extremely difficult player to guard, Orser said. Wages has proven to be a relentless rebounder, especially on the offensive board. He’s virtually impossible to block out, Orser added.
Maybe that’s because Wages is so quick to get to the ball or it’s his 7-foot-1 wingspan or his foot movement, especially in the paint. He’s got a knack for rebounding, which a lot of guys don’t have, Orser said.
He also has a knack for accumulating fouls. Lots of them. Opponents have imposed, as he calls it, the Hack-a-Wages approach to neutralizing the Orediggers’ big man. Wages is just 40-of-73 (54.8 percent) from the free-throw line this season. If there’s one detriment to his game it’s foul shooting.
“I have to work on that. For the most part I’m comfortable with them, confident with them,” Wages said. “It’s just repetitious work on them at practice, making sure I do the same thing every time. It’s just the confidence is what I’m lacking there.”
But that’s the only area of his game he lacks self-assurance. He’s confident in every other aspect of his game — offensively and defensively. That’s especially true when it comes to rebounding, where he led Mines with 289 boards in 2011-12, including 98 on the offensive glass.
“I’ve always been from when I was in high school one that made my living always getting the offensive rebounds and scoring my points. It just comes natural. I tend to be in the right place at the right time,” Wages said.
Now to work on his free-throw shooting. It’s the last major component he needs to practice to make his game that much better, Orser said.
“It’s his practice habits, his preparations. He’s working on his skills on an individual basis,” Orser said. “Rather than just showing up to practice to be really good I think he saw some of the other good players we’ve had in the program and what they would do, what they have done (to get better). He wants that. He wants to get all the accolades that came to other previous players we had. He’s taking ownership and accountability to work at his skills, work at his game.”
It may be a long process to achieving that feat, but there’s still a long season ahead for Trevor Wages. He’s happy with where his game is at now. He just wants to keep improving. Considering how good he’s been already this season, he’s probably not that far off from being as good as he can be.