MISSOULA — Kyle Owens, a high school basketball player from southern California, had only one offer following his junior year on the hardwood.
The 6-foot-8 wing joined the Los Angeles-based Pump-N-Run AAU team this past spring and quickly picked up eight more offers, including one from Montana. As Owens whittled down his list, the Griz were among the final two teams and became his college choice when he committed on Saturday.
“This whole thing has been pretty hectic and confusing at times,” Owens told 406mtsports.com. “You just want to get it over with, but I didn’t want to rush anything, so I took my time and looked at everything. And when I made my decision, I knew it was right.”
Owens is from Calabasas, California, near Los Angeles, and plays at Crespi Carmelite High School. He averaged 13.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 assists as a junior, according to MaxPreps.com, while playing alongside current University of Arizona player Brandon Williams
Displaying toughness, versatility and unselfishness, he’s played everywhere from the 1 to the 5 in high school and AAU. He primarily played from the 2 to the 4, and that’s where he said the Montana coaches expect him to play depending on if they want to go with a small or big lineup.
“I’m all about winning. I’ll do whatever the team needs me to do to help win the game and championships,” Owens said of what he’ll bring to Montana. “I’m all about the team. I’ll pass up good shots for great shots. I feel like my motor is something that puts me above some other players, and just my versatility on offense and defense.
“On offense, being able to go inside and out. On defense, being able to guard multiple positions. Also my leadership on the court as well, always talking to other players.”
Owens said he was primarily recruited by Griz assistant coach Jay Flores, was offered in May and visited Montana in late September. He met with the coaching staff, hung out with current players, toured the school and athletic facilities and went to the Griz football game against Sacramento State.
Montana was Owen’s first visit. He chose the Griz over UC Davis, the only other school he visited, and had offers from UC Santa Barbara, Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Denver, Loyola Marymount, Hofstra and Cal State Northridge.
Before visiting Missoula, Owens knew current Grizzlies Mike Oguine and Eddy Egun, who are both from southern California. He watched Oguine when the current Griz senior was a high school player and he played against Egun, a true freshman, while on the AAU circuit.
“I really connected with the coaching staff and players on the team well,” Owens said of why he chose Montana. “I felt like I fit the style of play coach DeCuire plays and what he talked about with me and my parents fit me. It’s kind of similar to some of the stuff I run now in high school, so I’m used to some of the stuff.
“When he showed me video of their offense, I saw places on the floor where I could be effective. Catch it high post, top of the key or on the wings. He talked about how the game is like a game of chess and taking advantage of where the opportunities are. Wherever’s the easiest for me to score, that’s where he’ll put me.”
Owens anticipates signing his National Letter of Intent during the early period in November. He said the coaching staff is expecting him to bulk up when he gets to campus since he’s a skinny 200 pounds because of his height.
Before coming to Montana, Owens is hoping to help his young high school team capture a state championship. Crespi won the state title his freshman year, but he spent most of the year of junior varsity, getting moved up to varsity for the playoff run to the Division I state championship, the second-highest level in California.
Owens joins Josh Vazquez and Derrick Carter-Hollinger in Montana’s class of 2019. Vazquez is a 6-foot-3 point guard from Torrance California, near Los Angeles. Carter-Hollinger is a 6-foot-5 small forward from El Cajon, California, near San Diego.
The Griz will have at least four scholarships available in the class of 2019 since four seniors will exhaust their eligibility following the 2018-19 season: Ahmaad Rorie, Mike Oguine, Bobby Moorehead and Jamar Akoh.