Jared Samuelson didn’t want his college basketball future to overshadow his senior year of high school.
Now the Billings West senior-to-be won’t have to worry about it after committing to the University of Montana on Sunday.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been cheering for the Griz and I’ve always been a Griz fan,” Samuelson said while sporting a Montana Grizzly basketball T-shirt. “It’s just the fit. I like the program, I like the community, everything about it — the staff. It’s a great program.”
Samuelson, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward, averaged 19.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season for West. He also played AAU basketball over the spring and summer, where he drew the attention of college scouts around the country.
Samuelson said he also had scholarship offers from Air Force, Black Hills State, Montana State Billings and Seattle.
Montana, though, consistently showed interest in the Grizzly legacy. Samuelson’s dad, Shawn, played alongside current Montana head coach Travis DeCuire in the early 1990s. DeCuire played for the Griz from 1991-94, and Shawn Samuelson’s career ran from 1992-96.
“I’m creating my own legacy,” the younger Samuelson said. “My dad, if he didn’t play there, I still would have chose Montana. He had nothing to do with it. I’m not following in his footsteps; I’m creating my own legacy.”
Jared Samuelson’s Montana recruitment began under former Montana coach Wayne Tinkle. When Tinkle accepted the head coaching position at Oregon State and DeCuire replaced him, the Grizzlies formally issued Samuelson a scholarship offer.
“Things didn’t really change at all (with the coaching change),” Samuelson said. “I knew coach DeCuire for a little while. He coached down at Cal, and I knew him then. Coach (Jonathan Metzger)-Jones, I’ve known him for a while. I’ve met the new staff. I like them; they’re great people and great coaches.”
Samuelson said he will officially visit the Montana campus on Sept. 6 to meet his future teammates and coaching staff.
“When I’m there, it feels like a home away from home,” he said. “It’s a great place to play basketball, great conference. And wearing Montana across your chest, I like the sounds of that.”