MISSOULA — Kareem Jamar has been named the recipient of the Carl E. Dragstedt Award (Most Valuable Player) for the third straight season, announced eighth-year University of Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle.
Other award winners were guard Mario Dunn, who received the John Eaheart Award (Outstanding Defensive Player); director of basketball operations Joey Petschl was given the Naseby Rhinehart Award (Most Inspirational); and guard Brandon Gfeller was presented the Allan Nielsen Award (Best Represents Griz Basketball). All three of those awards, as well as the MVP, are voted on by the team.
Gfeller, a 6-4, 190-pound freshman guard from Colfax, Wash., was the first-time recipient of the Dennis T. Murphy Coaches Award, which is given to “the player that the coaching staff felt best represented the team through their effort, enthusiasm, being a great teammate, and ability to take coaching.”
The new award was named after Murphy, UM’s long time head certified athletic trainer, who served for 30-plus years at his alma mater and retired last spring, and worked with the men’s hoop team.
Jamar, a 6-5, 207-pound senior guard forward from Venice, Calif., was also named a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection for the third year in a row this past season. He was Montana’s (and the league’s) MVP last season, and he shared UM’s MVP award with guard Will Cherry following his sophomore year.
As a senior, Jamar was fourth in the Big Sky in scoring (18.8 ppg) and assists (4.0 apg), and 10th in rebounding (5.6 rpg). He led the Griz in all three of those categories.
“Kareem was our Mr. Everything – scoring, assisting, and rebounding, and leadership,” Tinkle said. “I am really proud of Kareem and all that he has accomplished in his career. He should be getting his degree here this summer and is really focused on making that the last piece to his career here at the University of Montana.”
Jamar was ranked third in the conference in minutes played (36.2 mpg). He ended his career fourth in school history in scoring and in assists, with 1,673 points and 407 assists, and was 12th in career rebounds with 664. His 1,673 career points are the 13th most in league history.
Dunn, a 6-0, 171-pound freshman from Oakland, Calif., started in 16 games as a “true” freshman, and was fifth on the team in scoring at 6.3 points a game, and a candidate for the Big Sky’s “Freshman of the Year” award.
“Mario is a guy, as the year went along, really improved,” Tinkle said. “He turned around a lot of games for us with his defensive pressure. He brought it every day in practice, and I thought really helped a lot of other players get better because of his efforts day-to-day.”
Petschl, from Seattle, has been with the Grizzly basketball program the past six seasons, and spent the last two as the director of basketball operations. The previous four seasons he served as team manager. He was recently hired as an assistant basketball coach at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Wash.
“Joey is a guy who brought it every day,” Tinkle said. “No task was above or beneath him. He showed a dedication and a level of work ethic that inspired not only our players, but our staff as well. I am thrilled that he is stepping right into his first coaching gig as the top assistant at Saint Martin’s. He has meant a lot to our program and has been a big part of our success.”
A true freshman, Gfeller played in 27 games and started in two, and was named to the Big Sky’s all-academic team.
“The Allan Nielsen Award is a big award in our program, because of what is represents,” Tinkle said. “We are proud of Brandon. He does ii in n the classroom; he does it on the court; and he does it in the community and is always willing to volunteer. I know he’s going to continue to improve and have a huge impact for us on the court.
“We wanted to recognize Dennis Murphy, so ths season we had the inaugural Dennis T. Murphy Coaches’ Award, and the coaches pick someone who really buys into the Grizzly image on and off the court. It’s someone who best represents our program in the community and in the locker-room, and we gave that award to Brandon Gfeller as well, for all that he stands for. I know Dennis would be proud that a player such as Brandon won that the first year.
“All-in-all, I am very, very proud of our award winners and team for all they gave us this year, and we look forward to the future,” Tinkle said.
— Montana Sports Information