BOZEMAN — Professional basketball player Josh Huestis might be from Great Falls, but he says he has a special spot in his heart for Bozeman. It led him to bring his youth camp back once again to the city this week. And it’s been nice to get away from the grind of the pros every once in a while.
“It’s obviously really good to come back to Montana, which is nice. I see that as a vacation, but it’s still being with the kids and staying upbeat and energetic. Like, it still keeps me on my toes and moving, but it’s a lot of fun. Anytime I get to come home it’s exciting,” said Huestis.
Huestis admits it’s been a tough year of basketball, battling injuries that have kept him from stepping onto an NBA court. There was a moment where he lost his connection to basketball, losing sight of why he played the sport.
“The theme this year that I’m really trying to drive home to the kids is, ‘For the love of the game.’ I think it’s really easy in this day and age to get caught up in the competition and comparing yourself to others. I think it’s easy to forget that you should be playing because you love the game because it’s fun,” he said.
Now he’s back to loving the game. And he brings his events back to the Treasure State every year because of an experience he had as a young teenager when Larry Krystkowiak, the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks at the time, held a one-day camp in Montana.
“I remember one time, the coolest thing for me, Larry Krystkowiak came back and he had this little one-day clinic thing and I went to that and I thought that was like the coolest thing in the world to see that a Montana guy that made it to the NBA. And seeing that really inspired me and I always remember that. How cool it was for me then, I hope the kids here see it as the same way,” said Huestis.
Krystkowiak, who spent his formative years in Shelby and Missoula, played for the University of Montana from 1982-86 and was selected 28th overall by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 1986 NBA Draft. He then served two stints as a Griz coach and is currently the head coach at the University of Utah.
Huestis, a first-round pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2014, says wherever the future takes him with professional basketball, he hopes to continue these camps to inspire kids and give them the push they need to realize that any dream is possible.
“We always have so much fun doing this and I think it makes a big difference, and the chance to give back is something I look forward to and I want to do this for as long as I can,” Huestis said. “I have a blast with it, so I want this to become a recurring thing.”