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UM men's, women's hoops bolster backcourts with latest incoming transfers

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MISSOULA — The Montana men's and women's basketball programs each made some splashy transfer additions this week.

The men's team, which was in need of help at the guard spot following the departures of Robby Beasley III and Cameron Parker, added two guards over the past few days while the women's team, which got some good news recently as starting guard Sammy Fatkin will be back, might have just had one of the more splashy additions of the signing cycle this offseason.

The Griz men signed former North Dakota and Southern Utah guard Aanen "AJ" Moody on Thursday. The 6-foot-3 guard who is a 3-point specialist announced his commitment on his Instagram page Thursday.

Moody, a native of Dickinson, North Dakota, who currently holds the state's all-time boys basketball career scoring mark, spent the past two seasons with the Thunderbirds after he started his career closer to home in Grand Forks at UND. Moody has shot at least 34.5% from distance on no less than 2.9 tries per game in each of his college hoops seasons — as he brings a needed 3-point stroke to the Grizzlies' offense.

The men weren't done though. On Saturday, Jonathan Brown, a transfer from Central Methodist (NAIA), announced on Twitter his intentions to join the Griz. 

Brown torched the NAIA ranks at 18.6 points per game on 36% from long range (on six attempts per game) last season as a sophomore. The 6-3 combo guard, on paper, looks to be the prototypical replacement for Beasley as UM has retooled following a slew of offseason transfers.

The two transfers bring the men's additions from the transfer portal up to four, two from Division I in Dischon Thomas and Moody, one from D-II in Laolu Oke and one from NAIA in Brown, plus a five-member freshman class as the roster takes shape and could be nearing its final look before the summer. The men lost Beasley, Parker, Derrick Carter-Hollinger, Kyle Owens, Johnny Braggs, Jack Wetzel and Freddy Brown III to the portal and Scott Blakney to graduation.

Moody and Brown round out the available scholarships for the men.

The Lady Griz weren't to be outdone, however, as Brian Holsinger and his staff got a commitment from Gina Marxen, a former Idaho guard and the 2018-19 Big Sky freshman of the year. She sat out last season but will suit up for Montana next year as the Grizzlies look to retool after losing key members of last season's team in Nyah Morris-Nelson, Abby Anderson and Sophia Stiles.

Marxen averaged 12.5 points, 4.7 assists, 3.25 boards, 1.0 steals and shot 36% from the field and 33.6% from distance during her final season at Idaho in 2020-21. Her Vandals team finished second to Idaho State in both the regular season and the Big Sky Conference tournament that year.

Marxen is the second transfer on the women's roster, as she joins mid-season transfer Keeli Burton-Oliver, 

Lance Hartzler covers Griz men's basketball and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter at @lance_hartz or shoot him an email at Lance.Hartzler@406mtsports.com.

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