While the University of Montana basketball team might not get national attention very often, it’s a program that has a long tradition that dates back to 1901. Since then, Montana has had some fantastic seasons and players that have etched themselves into Griz history. Of all of those players, here are the five greatest in Griz basketball history.
5. Sayeed Pridgett
Coming out of El Carrito high school in Oakland, California, Sayeed Pridgett made his way to Montana in 2016 and started several games as a freshman. It wasn’t until his junior year, though, that Pridgett started getting some serious playing time and it catapulted him into being one of the best players in the conference.
The two-time All-Big Sky player averaged 15.1 points during his junior seasons, then followed it up with a great senior campaign where he scored 19.8 points while also putting up 7.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Pridgett ended his Grizzlies career as the school’s fourth all-time leading scorer.
4. Martin Breunig
Martin Breunig found himself in the Pac-12 at the start of his college career, playing for the University of Washington. In two seasons with the Huskies, Breunig didn’t start a single game and posted 1.2 points per game. Hoping to crack a starting lineup, Breunig transferred to Montana, sitting out the 2013-14 season.
Breunig spent his remaining two years of eligibility with the Griz, averaging 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. Breunig was named to the All-Big Sky Team in both seasons, leading the Grizzlies to both the NIT and CBI. Unfortunately, he never made the NCAA Tournament as a member of the Griz, though they did win a share of the Big Sky title in 2015.
3. Ahmaad Rorie
Just like Martin Breunig, Ahmaad Rorie transferred from a Pac-12 school to join Montana. Rorie came from Oregon where he spent one season with the Ducks as a role player, then became a star with Montana after sitting out for his transfer season. Rorie was a full-time starter for three seasons with the Griz, and was a member of the All-Big Sky Team in all three years.
Rorie added a Big Sky Tournament MVP Award to his resume, as well. In his final two seasons, Montana won the Big Sky Tournament to make it to the NCAA Tournament. In both of those tournaments, though, Rorie and the Griz would face off against a highly ranked Michigan team in the first round and lost both games.
2. Michael Ray Richardson
A 6’5” guard, Michael Ray Richardson came to Montana in 1974 and had a solid freshman season, and broke into the starting lineup the following year. Richardson posted 18.2 points per game during his sophomore year and only got better from there. Richardson was named to the All-Big Sky Team three times in Montana, finishing his career with 17.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Richardson made Big Sky Conference history when he was drafted fourth overall in 1978 by the New York Knicks. Richardson played for nine seasons in the NBA and then more than a decade overseas before retiring in 2002. Afterward, the four-time NBA All-Star would go into coaching for 10 years.
1. Larry Krystkowiak
Of course, when you’re talking about all-time Montana greats, you have to put Larry Krystkowiak at the top of the list. The 6’9” forward spent four seasons in Montana, becoming a starter in his sophomore season. Over the course of his Griz career, Krystkowiak was a three-time Big Sky Player of the Year and a two-time All-Big Sky Tourney Team member.
By his senior year, Krystkowiak was one of the NCAA’s top players, averaging 22.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. He was drafted in 1986 by the Chicago Bulls and spent more than a decade in the NBA. After his playing days, Krystkowiak went into coaching, returning to Montana where he became an assistant and eventually the Griz head coach before coaching the Milwaukee Bucks and the University of Utah.