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Roundtable AOY finalist: Jesse Owens, football or basketball?

Posted: 10:42 PM, May 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-10 13:20:34-04

BILLINGS — We’ve seen a lot of Jesse Owens in his athletic years at Billings West.

He was a three-year football starter for the Bears, earning Class AA offensive MVP honors at receiver and helping win last year’s state championship.

Owens also showcases four varsity letters in basketball, including a two-time all-state award winner. But, believe it or not, as athletic as he his, Owens says he’s never dunked in a game.

“I tried one game against CMR on Senior Night,” he recalled with a big grin. “I had a fast break and was halfway up and pulled back and ended up missing the layup, so I was kind of scared for the rest of the season after doing that.”

It would’ve been natural to gravitate toward college hoops given his long history on the court. Owens said as a second grader he played up with the fourth graders, and he especially focused on it more recently.

“The past three summers I’ve spent playing AAU basketball,” Owens said, “but, like I said, there’s just something about the University of Montana that just …”

That just gripped him with a gut feeling to take a football scholarship. He says he was wowed by the full effect of the coaching staff, stadium and atmosphere.

By the way, Owens said with a smile his basketball teammates at West did get a little video of him dunking in practice this season.

The Midland Roundtable will announce one male and one female winner at the Athlete of the Year banquet on Wednesday, May 15 at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center.