Griz men add guard form Casper College

MISSOULA — Montana men’s basketball coach Wayne Tinkle filled out his 2014-15 roster recently with the addition of Daniel Nwosu, a transfer from Casper (Wyo.) College. Nwosu played one season for the Thunderbirds and will be a sophomore next season for the Grizzlies.

Nwosu (en-WAH-soo), originally from Ottawa, Ontario, is a 6-foot-2 combo guard.

“Daniel is a very physical guard who plays extremely hard on the defensive end and can shoot it,” Tinkle said. “We feel like his intensity on the defensive end and his ability to make shots is really going to help us. Plus he’s a great character guy, and we need that moving forward.”

Nwosu, who spent a postgraduate year at Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kan., before enrolling at Casper, started 31 of 32 games last season for the Thunderbirds. He averaged more than 31 minutes per game and finished third on the team in scoring at 13.2 points while shooting 45.2 percent.

Nwosu, who connected on 74 attempts (2.3/g) from the arc, shot 43.7 percent from 3-point range, the seventh-best single-season percentage in program history, and 84.0 percent from the line. He added 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

He also finished with a team-leading 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio, making him a good fit for a team that values the basketball. Montana ranked fourth nationally a year ago at fewer than 10 turnovers per game.

“When I went on my visit a couple of weeks ago, I found it to be a beautiful place with great people and a strong basketball program,” Nwosu said. “All in all, it was pretty enticing.

“My coach (at Casper) told me I’d love it. He said it’s a great situation and that my game would really translate there.”

That coach knows what he’s talking about. Dan Russell just finished his first year as head coach of the Thunderbirds, but he spent the previous five years in the program as an assistant.

One of the players he previously coached at Casper and sent to Montana was Art Steward, who helped Montana to back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2010-11 and 2011-12 and the 2012 NCAA tournament.

“I have known Wayne for a long time now as well as his staff, and I think his coaching style and the culture he’s created in his program are as good as anybody’s in the country,” said Russell. “It makes me very comfortable sending Daniel to play for the Griz.”

Russell and Nwosu led Casper to a 19-13 record last winter.

“First and foremost, Montana is getting a great kid,” Russell added. “He has one of the best work ethics I have been around. He spends a lot of time working on his game outside of what is required, and that has gotten him to where he is now.

“Daniel is a big, strong guard who always defended the other team’s best perimeter player for us. The toughness he brings to Montana will help the team tremendously. On the other side of the ball, he is a very good shooter and scorer.”

Nwosu gives Tinkle four newcomers for next season. The Grizzlies signed Bryden Boehning, of Glendive, Mont., to a National Letter of Intent in November and Fabijan Krslovic, of New South Wales, Australia, to an NLI last month.

Both are post players, as is Martin Breunig, a transfer from Washington who joined the Grizzlies prior to last year but had to sit out the season.

Montana also last month added guard Jermaine Edmonds, a transfer from Diablo Valley (Calif.) College and high school teammate of Mario Dunn, the Grizzlies’ starting point guard. Like Nwosu, Edmonds will have three years of eligibility at Montana.

“By signing Bryden in the fall and these three in the spring, I think we’ve addressed some of our concerns on the interior,” Tinkle said. “When you add the new guys and Martin, we feel really good about our team up front.

“We signed some good players to cover our losses on the perimeter and have some good players already in the system, so we’re really excited as we move forward.”

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