MISSOULA — The University of Montana has signed two standout high school guards to early National Letters of Intent today announced seventh-year Grizzly head basketball coach Wayne Tinkle. Today is the first opportunity for players to sign early NLIs.
The two additions to the Griz basketball program are Mario Dunn Jr., a 6-0, 170-pound point guard from Salesian High School in Richmond, Calif., and Brandon Gfeller (JEE-feller), a 6-4, 180-pound shooting guard from Colfax High School in Washington state.
Dunn’s high school team is coming off a 34-2 record and won the Division IV state title last season. Dunn is one of three starters for the Pride from that state championship team. His high school team does not keep individual player statistics.
Rated a 3-star prospect by Scouthoops.com, Dunn was the starting point guard for the Oakland Soldiers AAU team, the top-ranked AAU squad in the nation last year.
“Mario Dunn Jr. comes from a great high school program, Salesian (sal-EE-shun),” Tinkle said. “Coach (Bill) Mellis has done a great job there. They have won a couple of state titles (2012 and a 31-4 team in 2009) there in the last few years, including last year when Mario was the starting point guard as a junior.
“He (Mario) also played for the number one ranked AAU team in the country, with recruits Jabari Bird (a five-star wing who committed to Cal) and Aaron Gordon (a 6-7 forward who has had offers from Kansas, Arizona, Kentucky and others) two of the top recruits in the country,” Tinkle said. “So he has played a lot of games and is very experienced.
“I love his (Dunn) personality,” Tinkle said. “He’s a high character, high energy kid. He’s a very shifty point guard and can get wherever he wants on the floor. He’s a great athlete and he shoots the ball pretty well. We are really excited about getting a player of his caliber up here.”
Gfeller was chosen the 2B “Player of the Year” as a junior last season, and his Bulldog hoop team went 22-5 and also won a state championship (his school’s first state title since 1979) a year ago. He averaged 18 points a game and is a proficient three-point shooter. He played AAU basketball for Spokane’s Pump N Run team.
“Brandon reminds me a lot of some of the outstanding shooting guards that Montana has had over the past few years,” Tinkle said. “I think he’s got around a 6-foot-7 wing span, and he really elevates and has a high release on his shot. Our staff identified him as one of the best shooters that we’ve see the past couple of years.
“He’s from Colfax, his family farms, and they are very blue collar, and he’s just a delightful young man from a great family, and we’re thrilled about his prospects of playing right away,” Tinkle said. “He’s a very mature kid. He’s going to be a very versatile player. I think that he can play multiple positions for us, and he’s not just a shooter. He also comes from great high school and AAU programs.”
“When you look at years when we’ve had great success we’ve had really good guards, and we obviously feel very good about the guys that we’ve had here the last few years,” Tinkle said. “With those two (signees) we feel very good about our backcourt down the road.”
Tinkle said that he does have one scholarship available saying, “we will continue to recruit, and we need to sign a big late. We are looking far and wide for a good post player to join Marion and Brandon.”
“We’re excited about where we’ve gone with our recruitment over the last several classes,” Tinkle said; “and we are even more thrilled about this year’s.”
— UM Sports Information