Cat men sign ‘high-character’ guards

BOZEMAN — Brad Huse added a pair of sharp-shooting high school guards to the Bobcat men’s basketball program on Tuesday, but Montana State’s seventh-year head coach was as quick to laud Stephan Holm and Vance Wentz for characteristics that go beyond the basketball court.

“We’ve added two high-character, hard-working student-athletes who are going to fit into Montana State University and our basketball program ideally,” Huse said. “Both these young men are picking MSU for the right reasons: they see it as a great place to play basketball but also they like the community and the school and they have the aptitude and ability to be highly successful students.”

Holm, a 6-3, 180-pound guard from Riverton, Utah, HS, who averaged 12 points and five rebounds a game as a junior, even while “we had to tell him to shoot more,” said Riverton coach Steve Galley. “He’s a very unselfish player, but he’s an excellent shooter and we project him to be around 20 (points per game) this year. Fans at Montana State are going to love watching him play because he’s a shooter and a scorer, and he can jump out of the gym.”

A First-Team All-State and all-region selection as a junior, Galley is pleased with Holms’ decision. “I’ve thought for two years that he’s a division I player,” Galley said, “and I think Montana State is going to be a good opportunity for him, a good place. He loves Bozeman, it’s just a good fit for him. He’s a mountain west type of kid and he doesn’t really like good big crowds and big cities. He’ll be really comfortable in that setting.”

Wentz, a 6-4, 195-pound guard from Leawood, KS, enters his senior season at Shawnee Mission East High School as a fourth-year starter. The former three-sport standout chose to concentrate on basketball his senior year after earning second team all-leaugue and honorable mention all-state honors as a junior, when he averaged 15 points a game, shooting 32% from three-point range and 77% from the line. Wentz also averaged 15 points a game as a sophomore, when hear was third team all-league and his conference’s Sophomore of the Year.

“The best thing about Vance is that he is a throwback, gym rat kind of kid,” said Shawnee Mission East coach Shawn Hair. “He’s a very good athlete and a great kid who comes from a great family. He wants to please you, he wants to succeed. He has very good values. His parents have done a great job raising him. He wants to win, really wants the team to do well. If his team wins that’s good, and his personal stats don’t matter to him.”

Hair said that Wentz has improved his game beyond perimeter shooting, for which he has long been noted. “Vance is a great three-point shooter,” he said, “but he’s really improved his ball-handling and his ability to drive to the basket. And he’s improved his general athleticism – his ability to jump and dunk, a lot of those things. He’s really improved during his career here.”

Hair noted that while Shawnee Mission East “is a really good school, a very academically-oriented school that prepares kids well for college,” Wentz is only the fourth Division I signee from that SME in 22 years. “He is willing to do anything it takes to play Division I basketball,” Hair said. “This is his dream.”

Huse said Wentz and Holm enhance MSU’s perimeter game. “The common derivative on the floor with these two is they can really shoot the basketball,” Huse said. “Vance brings a little more size and can play any of the three positions in the backcourt, while Stephan is a prototypical off-guard with his shooting ability. At the same time, he can put the ball on the floor and finish above the rim in traffic. They’re great people and determined to be successful and contributors at this level and I fully expect that will happen early in their careers.”

The newcomers also bolster a talented group of young players when they arrive next fall, Huse said. “We’ve established a really strong, young core in the program, with Vance and Stephan fitting nicely with current freshmen Marcus Colbert (point guard), Danny Robison (forward), Ryan Shannon (a forward/center slated to redshirt in 2012-13), and our sophomores, Mike Dison (guard), Blake Brumwell (center), and Eric Norman (forward).”

Huse indicated that Holm and Wentz will be MSU’s only early signings.

— MSU Sports Information