Two leave Montana men’s team

MISSOULA — Montana men’s basketball coach Wayne Tinkle announced Wednesday that Nick Emerson and Keron DeShields will be pursuing new playing opportunities and won’t be returning to the Grizzlies in 2014-15.

Emerson, who has two years of eligibility remaining, will be transferring to Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston, Idaho, after being a member of two NCAA tournament teams at Montana.

The 6-foot-5 forward from Columbia Falls joined the Grizzlies as a walk-on in 2011-12 and worked his way into a scholarship. He saw limited minutes in 12 games in 2012-13 and 11 games in 2013-14.

“We decided Nick should go somewhere he could play and really contribute his last couple of years,” Tinkle said. “This will be an opportunity for him to really be a part of something.

“We loved having Nick in the time we had him, and we know he’s going to really enjoy the additional basketball opportunities he’ll get at Lewis-Clark State.”

In a decision that both sides mutually agreed was in the best interest of the player, DeShields, an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference guard for the Grizzlies last winter, will be free to look for a new situation to conclude his collegiate playing career.

“It’s a tough situation, because Keron is a kid I’m very close to,” said Tinkle. “As a head coach, your job is to put guys in a position where they are going to have the chance to succeed.

“I think Keron finding a new place, where he can spend a year learning a new system and continuing to grow, will allow him to develop into the player and person we know he can become.”

DeShields, a 6-2 guard from Baltimore, saw limited action as a true freshman in 2011-12, then developed into a key reserve on Montana’s second consecutive NCAA tournament team in 2012-13.

Last season he started all but two games and finished third on the team in scoring (11.8/g) and second in assists (2.5/g) while playing more than 31 minutes per game.

“He’ll get a lot of interest because he’s got a great stat line,” added Tinkle. “There are a lot of schools hurting for players at his position. Hopefully he can go somewhere and redshirt next winter, then have a great senior year. That’s what I want for him.

“The great part about him going to a Division I school and redshirting means he’s guaranteed to get his degree, which is priority No. 1 for him and for us.”

Montana also lost seniors Kareem Jamar and Eric Hutchison to graduation, putting the Grizzlies down four players from last year, three of whom played significant minutes.

Tinkle signed Bryden Boehning, of Glendive, Mont., to a National Letter of Intent during November’s early signing period and Fabijan Krslovic, of New South Wales, Australia, to an NLI last month.

Montana also added Jermaine Edmonds Jr., a transfer from Diablo Valley (Calif.) College, in April, and Tinkle expects to announce the addition of a fourth player in the coming days.

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