Marquelle Dent could be playing basketball at UCLA. Or Arizona. Or Oregon. Or Utah.
They all wanted her. But she only wanted to be here at the University of Wyoming.
The daughter of Sean Dent, who earned the nickname “The Prince of Pilfer” during a brilliant playing career in which he helped lead the UW men’s team to a pair of trips to the NCAA Tournament, is regarded as one of the Cowgirls’ finest recruits in Joe Legerski’s 10 seasons as head coach, a dynamic leader who blends smarts and skills.
Sort of like, well, her dad.
“I’ve learned almost everything about basketball from him, especially since we both play the same position,” Marquelle says. “What he’s taught me is pretty much what I do.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that the fresh-faced point guard is a remarkable passer with quick hands. Though a capable scorer—she averaged 12.1 points per game during her senior season at Regis Jesuit High in Aurora, Colo.—Dent earned her spot as one of Colorado’s top prep players by displaying the same attributes that made her father one of the best players in UW history.
As the floor general for Cowboy teams headlined by Fennis Dembo and Eric Leckner, Sean Dent established UW career records for assists (502, including a single-season record 183 in 1986-87) and steals (249, including a single-season record 93 in 1985-86) during the program’s most recent heyday, a three-year stretch that included 74 victories, highlighted by 1987 tournament wins over Virginia and UCLA.
In leading the Raiders to a 22-5 record during her senior season—Regis Jesuit advanced to the state semifinals in Colorado’s largest classification— Marquelle Dent averaged 8.5 assists and 4.1 steals per game to earn first-team all-state accolades.
“I think Marquelle has some of the same tendencies as her dad. But she’s going to set her own path, there is no doubt. She is her own person,” says Legerski, who became the school's winningest coach when the Cowgirls beat Pepperdine on Nov. 24. “She understands the game, she is a leader on the court, she knows who to get the basketball to, and she wins. When you put that together, along with her personality, we knew we needed to have her in our program.”
They knew for a while, too. As a youngster, Marquelle was a regular at Cowgirl basketball camps—Legerski says she first caught his eye as a seventhgrader— before the Dents moved from Laramie to the Denver area prior to her freshman season.
Though Dent was heavily recruited by schools across the West, including UW’s Mountain West Conference rivals Colorado State and New Mexico, Dent says she always wanted to return to Laramie and play for the Cowgirls.
Twenty-four years after Sean Dent last donned the brown and gold, Marquelle made her UW debut against Dakota Wesleyan in an October exhibition game inside the Arena-Auditorium. She’s not shying away from her father’s legacy, either: Marquelle wears the same number, 10, as he did during his playing days.
“I had other schools recruiting me, but this one just always stuck to my heart,” says Dent, who was in attendance at the Double-A on the night UW won the Women’s National Invitation Tournament in 2007, the crowning achievement in Legerski’s coaching tenure. “As soon as I came here on my visit, I just felt like I should be here.” So does Legerski.
“There was only one place for Marquelle ever to be—and she is here,” the coach says. “And we’re just excited that Marquelle is part of this Cowgirl basketball program, and we know she’s going to do amazing things in her time here.”