Looks like Wayne Tinkle has the Griz reloaded for another run at the Big Sky title next season.
Montana has signed junior college standout Spencer Coleman to a National Letter of Intent, seventh-year Grizzly head coach Wayne Tinkle announced Monday.
A 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward from Eugene, Ore., Coleman played for the Eastern Arizona College Gila Monsters the past two seasons. He will be a junior at Montana next season.
This past season Coleman was selected a junior college All-American, first team All-Region and all-conference, when he averaged 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. He shot 75 percent from the free-throw line and made 56 3-pointers for head coach Maurice Leitzke.
Coleman’s sophomore team went 21-10 last season and lost 66-53 to Arizona Western in a Region 1 playoff game. One of his teammates at EAC, sophomore guard Robert Harris, recently signed to play at Idaho.
His freshman year he was also a first team all-league pick, and averaged 18.0 points a game and shot 40 percent from 3-point range.
“Spencer was just an outstanding player offensively and defensively for us the past two years,” coach Leitzke said. “He just did numerous things for us on both ends of the floor.
“Spencer I think can go to the next level (Division 1) and step in and have an immediate impact. He’s a young man who has a very high skill set. He shoots the ball well, he’s very athletic, he gets the ball off the rim and he is very coachable.”
Coleman was second team all-state selection in basketball as a senior at South Eugene High School.
“We are very excited to welcome Spencer Coleman into our program and to the University of Montana,” said Tinkle, who has a career record of 116-71 at his alma mater. “He is a very skilled player who we feel can play multiple positions. He has good size, good athleticism, and he can shoot it beyond the arc, he can post, and he can put the ball on the floor. He is a very good-looking prospect and very solid student as well, which is obviously a priority for us.
“You look at what we lost on the perimeter with Art Steward, Shawn Stockton, and Jordan Wood … we feel like he’s kind of a blend of all of those guys,” Tinkle added. “His ability to score inside and out will be a great addition to the guys we signed earlier. That wraps up our recruiting and we really feel like we’ve answered all of our needs as we move forward with the players we have returning.”
According to the website 247Sports.com, Coleman had offers from Idaho, Eastern Washington, Portland, Portland State and Utah.
“I really like the environment (at UM), and I wanted to be somewhat close to home, being from Oregon,” Coleman said. “Being in the Big Sky gives me the opportunity to play in front of my family.
“Montana had all of the things that I was looking for in a school. They have a very good program with great people and they have a great college atmosphere too. I really fell in love with the atmosphere when I was on my visit.”
Coleman is the second junior college player to sign with the Griz in the past week. Montana recently signed 6-11, 230-pound center Marko Kovacevic. Kovacevic played his JC hoops at Western Nebraska Community College, where he averaged 11.7 points and 7.8 rebounds last season for the 26-7 Cougars.
“Obviously Montana had a great year last year, winning their conference and going to the NCAA tournament and I just hope to be able to come in do what I do best and be able to contribute in any way, and help them get back to the Big Sky Conference championship game and the NCAA tournament,” Coleman said.
Montana signed two prep players in the early signing period last November – Andy Martin and Jake Wiley. Martin is a 7-foot, 225-pound center from Casper, Wyo. Wiley is a 6-7, 190-pound forward from Newport (Wash.) High School.