BILLINGS — Every team needs a hype man. Somebody to inject energy when it’s low and keep it going when it’s high. For Rocky Mountain College, that man is Clayton Ladine.
“He definitely keeps everybody going and just motivates everybody,” said Bears forward Craig Wilmore. “So, when he gets shots going, we love to see him react to the crowd and stuff like that.”
You’ll know when Ladine makes a bucket. He doesn’t shy away from the now trademark reactions.
“I have a lot of fun playing,” Ladine said with a smile. “My teammates get me hyped up, and so it’s fun. I get excited and get caught up in the moment sometimes.”
Road games get him going even more.
“Oh yeah, my teammates know,” he said. “When the crowd, especially at away games, when they start talking and chirping at me, it gets me going. So I like it. It gets a spark going for the team sometimes and gets us on a run, so it works out.”
His teammates love it and his coaches are fine with it.
“I would much rather have to tell a kid to tame it down than a kid to, ‘Let’s get going. Get excited,'” said head coach Bill Dreikosen. “So, no, we have no problem with him. He’s an exciting player. When you coach and recruit, you want guys that can bring energy and passion, and he does.”
The thing is, Ladine isn’t just a sideshow. The junior from San Francisco can play. He’s started Rocky’s past five games and scored a season-high 20 points at Montana Tech last Friday.
“It’s a good confidence booster,” Ladine said. “Just showing that the coach and my teammates believe in me – it’s been nice.”
“He just loves the game,” said Dreikosen. “It’s not celebratory for himself – he’s not a selfish kid at all. He leads our team in assists. He just wants to win.”
So how did Ladine get to be this way? It’s a simple answer.
“I just love basketball. I’ve never really played in front of this many people. My high school was a small high school, so this big crowd, I get excited, and it’s fun,” he said.
That’s what a hype man is all about, after all.