MISSOULA – The Montana Grizzlies men’s basketball team starts four seniors. Two of them rank in the top eight in all-time scoring at Montana. But a junior might be their most valuable player right now.
Sayeed Pridgett has won back to back Big Sky Conference player of the week awards.
In one of the biggest games of the season, Pridgett played the best game of his career. The 6-foot-5 wing from Oakland totaled 29 points and 16 rebounds in a win at Weber State.
“Honestly, I didn’t even realize it until after the game,” claimed Pridgett. “When coach kind of told me, I was like, oh. I kind of shocked myself.”
The first time starter ranks top 15 in the Big Sky in scoring (14.9), rebounding (6.0), assists (2.5) and steals (1.1) during conference play. But the danger of Montana’s other stars keeps giving Pridgett great match-ups.
“I feel like the guys that we’re playing with are focused so much on our other players,” said Pridgett. “Those guys, like Ahmaad (Rorie) and Mike (Oguine), they find me when I’m open. So it just makes my game a lot easier, because honestly the focus is on those guys. So I kind of just get to creep in there and get my shots.”
Pridgett has scored nearly 23 points per game and made an incredible 73 percent of his shots over the last four games. He perfectly practices what head coach Travis DeCuire preaches — patience and good shot selection — and its paying off.
“He’s selective,” explained DeCuire. “He’s shooting well from 3, but he doesn’t take a lot. But he’s so good with the ball, as a passer, as a penetrator, that it makes it very difficult to guard him. And then he moves well without it, and he finishes around the rim well.”
Montana starting forward Jamar Akoh is still out indefinitely with an injury, which makes the Grizzlies play a smaller lineup. But the team hasn’t missed a beat because Pridgett keeps coming up big.
“I feel like with Jamar out I need to rebound a lot more,” admitted Pridgett. “So it kind of puts that pressure on me, and just make sure I can help the team and cover what Jamar brought for us.”
Pridgett and the Grizzlies can’t wait for another Big Sky showdown this Saturday. The Bobcats come to Missoula for a doubleheader. The ladies start at 2:00. Then the men tipoff at 7:00.