BOZEMAN — With the NCAA granting college athletes an extra year of eligibility, it presented a unique opportunity for graduating seniors.
It gave them a chance to close out their careers with a different program if they wanted, but luckily for Montana State, the Bobcats will be welcoming back three very familiar faces: Xavier Bishop, Amin Adamu and Abdul Mohamed.
“I’m excited to announce that I will be returning back for another year," Adamu said in a video posted to Twitter. "Can’t wait to get to work. Can’t wait for you guys to be in (Brick Breeden Fieldhouse). Let’s go get this (championship).”
'Run it back' was the common theme on each of their announcements posted to social media last week. It’s a motto the three seniors have been holding onto since their loss in the Big Sky Conference championship.
“Run it back means everything," Bishop said. "The season didn’t finish how we wanted it to last year. I feel like that loss definitely made it a lot easier to come back.”
Loyalty also played a big factor in their return.
“Coach (Danny Sprinkle) trusted me and gave me a chance when nobody really gave me a chance being a grad transfer out of North Texas, so I owe it all to him," Mohamed said.
“My situation was rare where I had one sit year, one play year," Bishop added. "He didn’t care. He took a chance on me and allowed me to redshirt and get better. I feel like we owe that to him to come back and give him a championship.”
While all three had the same mindset, the process of bringing them back wasn’t so easy. With six incoming freshmen, there were no scholarships to give.
“We had to raise a lot of money to do it, and I want to thank our Sixth Man Club and some other people that really stepped up and made big contributions to make it possible for those three to come back," MSU coach Danny Sprinkle said.
Their return to the Bobcats locks in last year’s same starting five, but their veteran leadership is what Sprinkle is most looking forward to.
“From a culture standpoint, these veteran guys being able to help the six freshmen, it’s important for them to kind of trickle-down what we’ve tried to do the first two years," Sprinkle explained. "That’s what I’m kind of most excited about, is to see how they kind of permeate our culture within the young guys.”
"We feel like we have a lot to prove," Bishop said. "People still might doubt us. Whatever case may be, but as long as the people in our circle, organization and school believe in what we’re trying to do I think we’ll be fine.”