Griz ink junior college standout Spencer Coleman to NLI

Spencer Coleman

Spencer Coleman

April 23, 2012

The University of Montana has signed junior college standout Spencer Coleman to a National Letter of Intent today (Monday, April 23), announced seventh-year Grizzly head coach Wayne Tinkle.

A 6-6 ½, 210-pound forward from Eugene, Oregon, Coleman had played for the Eastern Arizona College Gila Monsters the past two seasons. He will be a junior at Montana next season.

This past season Coleman was selected a junior college All-American, first team All-Region and all-conference, when he averaged 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds a game, and shot 75% (66-of-88) from the line, and made 56 three-pointers for head coach Maurice Leitzke (pronounced: light-skee).

Coleman's sophomore team went 21-10 last season and lost 66-53 to Arizona Western in a Region 1 playoff game. One of his teammates at EAC, sophomore guard Robert Harris, recently signed to play at Idaho.

His freshman year he was also a first team all-league pick, and averaged 18.0 points a game and shot 40 percent from three-point range.

"Spencer was just an outstanding player offensively and defensively for us the past two years," coach Leitzke said via a phone interview Monday afternoon. "He just did numerous things for us on both ends of the floor.

"Spencer I think can go to the next level (Division 1) and step in and have an immediate impact," Leitzke said. "He's a young man who has a very high skill set. He shoots the ball well; he's very athletic; he gets the ball off the rim; and he is very coach-able."

Coleman excelled in two sports at South Eugene High School, and a was second team all-state selection in basketball as a senior, and an all-league wide receiver as a junior.

"We are very excited to welcome Spencer Coleman into our program and to The University of Montana," said Tinkle, who has a career record of 116-71 at his alma mater. "He is a very skilled player, who we feel can play multiple positions. He has good size, good athleticism, and he can shoot it beyond the arc, he can post, and he can put the ball on the floor. He is a very good looking prospect and very solid student as well, which is obviously a priority for us.



"You look at what we lost on the perimeter with Art Steward, Shawn Stockton, and Jordan Wood -- we feel like he's kind of a blend of all of those guys," Tinkle said. "His ability to score inside and out will be a great addition to the guys we signed earlier. That wraps up our recruiting, and we really feel like we've answered all of our needs as we move forward with the players we have returning."

According to the web site, Coleman had offers from Idaho, Eastern Washington, Portland, Portland State, and Utah.

"I really like the environment (at UM), and I wanted to be somewhat close to home, being from Oregon," Coleman said in a telephone interview today. "Being in the Big Sky gives me the opportunity to play in front of my family. Montana had all of the things that I was looking for in a school. They have a very good program; with great people; and they have a great college atmosphere too. I really fell in love with the atmosphere when I was on my visit.

"Obviously Montana had a great year last year, winning their conference and going to the NCAA tournament, and I just hope to be able to come in do what I do best and be able to contribute in any way, and help them get back to the Big Sky Conference championship game and the NCAA tournament."

Coleman is the second junior college player to sign with the Griz in the past week. Montana recently signed 6-11, 230-pound center Marko Kovacevic to an NLI. Kovacevic played his JC hoops at Western Nebraska Community College, where he averaged 11.7 points and 7.8 rebounds last season for the 26-7 Cougars.

Montana signed two prep players in the early signing period last November - Andy Martin and Jake Wiley.

Martin is a 7-foot, 225-pound center from Casper, Wyoming. He was a defensive specialist at Natrona County High School in Casper in 2010-11, where he averaged 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocked shots per game as a senior. Martin is currently attending St. John's Northwest Military Academy in Delafield, Wis.

Wiley is a 6-7, 190-pound forward from Newport High School (Washington). Wiley was co-MVP of his league as a junior, when he averaged 20.2 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game, and shot 50 percent from the field. He was an all-conference wide receiver as a junior and had 50 receptions for 10 touchdowns.

Montana is coming off a season in which it went 25-7 overall, which are the third most victories in school history, and the Griz compiled a record 15-1 Big Sky Conference ledger en route to the league's regular-season championship. Montana advanced to the NCAA tournament, losing in the opening round to Wisconsin.

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