(Editors note: story from Montana Sports Information)
MISSOULA, Mont. – When Montana’s basketball game at UCLA was canceled last December due to wildfires in the area, the Grizzlies lost out on an opportunity to beat a nationally ranked team inside a storied sports venue, not to mention a hefty payout from the Bruins. But while the game was canceled, not all was lost that night.
Already in Los Angeles and with no game that Dec. 6 evening, the Griz coaching staff hit the recruiting trails, taking advantage of southern California’s vast prep scene. That was the first time head coach Travis DeCuire and assistant coach Jay Flores caught a glimpse of Eddy Egun, who signed his National Letter of Intent this week to play for Montana.
The thing that initially caught Flores’ eyes was Egun’s ability to change the momentum of the game.
“When he wasn’t on the court his team’s deficit would increase,” Flores said. “Then when he’d go back in, he’d hit shots and make things happen to close the gap. You could see how high his competitive drive was, especially when his team needed him.”
Egun scored 25 points that night for El Camino Real, which Flores soon learned was much of the norm. Playing in one of the nation’s most competitive leagues, Egun twice was named to the All-CIF Los Angeles City Section Boys’ Basketball Team, earning All-Southern California Prep Insider honors as well. As his team’s captain, he led the Conquistadors to the state tournament in 2018, where he dropped 27 points in a narrow defeat to Long Beach Poly.
Since the conclusion of his prep career, Egun has been selected to play in several all-star games, including the Collision All-Star Game earlier this month in which he was named the game’s MVP.
Even with the accolades, Flores felt as if Egun flew under the radar, perhaps a diamond in the rough. He began to talk with coaches in the L.A area – including Michael Oguine‘s high school coach, who called Egun an impact player – and everything Montana saw in Egun was confirmed.
The Grizzlies wanted to go after him and extended a visit to campus earlier this month. That’s when it all clicked for both sides.
For Flores and the Griz coaching staff, they saw not only a player but the complete package.
“He fits across the board with what we want,” Flores said. “Basketball is important to us, but the fit is more important, and he and his family are about all of the right things. All of the current guys really liked being around him and respected his game, so we knew it was a great fit.”
For Egun, being around the team for the first time sold him that Missoula is where he wants to spend the next several years.
“Everything about my visit was nice,” Egun said. “I really liked the campus, the training facility, the success the team has had, and I really liked the bond of the team and how the coaches got along with the players.”
Egun particularly gravitated toward Oguine, the 2018 Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year and Big Sky Championship MVP. In addition to sharing a hometown, both Egun and Oguine’s parents are from Nigeria.
“He’s kind of like family,” Egun said of Oguine. “He’s already like my older brother and a mentor, and I know that we’ll have a tight bond because of that.”
Egun is undecided on a major but has interest in computer science. He needs to add some muscle and obviously transition to the college game, but down the road, Montana sees a player who can make an impact for the Grizzlies.
“If you’re producing in the league he played in, you know he’s a good player because it’s such high-level basketball,” Flores said. “He can shoot off the bounce, get to the rim and finish, and score. Defensively, he has the dimensions to be a good defender once he learns our scheme. His activity level could be high, especially guarding the ball.”