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Montana State alum Xavier Bishop in next chapter, coaching with Danny Sprinkle at Washington

XAVIER BISHOP
Posted at 3:27 PM, Jun 24, 2024

SEATTLE — Xavier Bishop, a Big Sky Conference champion and first-team all-league men's basketball player for Montana State, is now in his next chapter as a graduate assistant at the University of Washington.

The 2022 Big Sky Tournament MVP spent a year competing in Germany after college. After realizing his heart wasn’t into playing anymore, he made a career change still connected to the court.

"I called coach (Danny) Sprinkle and told him I wanted to get into coaching," Bishop recalled. "At that time he was going through that transition of going from Montana State to Utah State. He told me, 'I got you.' He’s always taken care of me. He’s like another father for me, always looked after me, and still does to this day."

Bishop then joined Utah State as a graduate assistant last year under Sprinkle. They won a Mountain West Conference regular-season championship and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament after defeating TCU 88-72 in the first round.

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Xavier Bishop at the Utah State's shoot around before the 2024 First Round of March Madness in Indianapolis.

Bishop credits Sprinkle for always being in his corner. But, as Sprinkle recalls, it was Bishop who took a chance on the first-time head coach back in 2019.

"Xavier was the first person to sign with me from my time as a head coach and took a chance on me when I had never coached a game," Sprinkle reflected. "He’d never been to Montana. And, you know, thank God I was friends with his coach at (University of Missouri - Kansas City), Kareem Richardson, who basically just delivered him to us."

Sprinkle then hesitated and laughed in explaining how special Bishop became to the program.

"Now," he said, "I didn’t know he was delivering us a first-team all-league point guard."

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Montana State's Xavier Bishop, left, and Danny Sprinkle pose for photos after the Bobcats topped Northern Colorado 87-66 on Saturday, March 12, 2022 to win the Big Sky Conference Tournament championship at Idaho Central Arena in Boise, Idaho.

Outside of Bishop’s sheer talent on display every night inside Brick Breeden Fieldhouse was his confidence and ability to relate to those around him.

"Once you get to know X, he’s got so much heart," Sprinkle said. "It really spread throughout the team, his swagger. He’s got real confidence, especially on the basketball court."

Those qualities are what will drive a successful career in coaching.

"To see him in the next phase of his life, you know, he’s going to be a tremendous coach," Sprinkle said. "And he’s just got a personality where he relates to people. You know, he’ll be honest with people, and he’s just a great person. And when you have those kind of traits, good things happen."

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Montana State's Xavier Bishop celebrates after the Bobcats topped Northern Colorado 87-66 on Saturday, March 12, 2022 to win the Big Sky Conference Tournament championship at Idaho Central Arena in Boise, Idaho.

"I had guys there to help me," Bishop said. "I feel like that’s the biggest thing sometimes. Maybe some coaches forget that they are developing young men, and with the landscape of basketball changing, you know, I’m learning to be patient."

Reflecting on his time as a Bobcat, Bishop still uses the lessons he learned from his college career into his coaching today.

"Details. Details matter," Bishop explained. "I mean, at first, when you’re going through it as a player, you’re like, ‘Man, why are they tripping about this and tripping about that?’ Man, just being on this side, you see how much time coaches really put into scouting reports and film and things like that."

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From left to right, Montana State's Jubrile Belo, Abdul Mohamed, Xavier Bishop and Amin Adamu speak with the media after the Bobcats topped Northern Colorado 87-66 on Saturday, March 12, 2022 to win the Big Sky Conference Tournament championship at Idaho Central Arena in Boise, Idaho.

The brotherhood of Bobcat basketball lives on with Bishop and his former teammates.

He was in Boise, Idaho, when the Bobcats went back-to-back in 2023, and this year he recalled watching the championship game in the team hotel with the Utah State group with Montana State ties.

"I know we were sitting watching the game, and we were going crazy up there," Bishop said with a laugh. "We got a noise complaint in the hotel room just watching them. Rob (Ford) played amazing, TP (Tyler Patterson) was hitting shots. It’s amazing because we genuinely care about those guys."

Witnessing the next-up carry on the winning legacy he helped start.