Danny Sprinkle adds to Bobcat program inaugural roster
by Danny Waldo
Roster turnover is a natural part of any coaching change, and Montana State has not been immune to player defections following the hiring of Danny Sprinkle back in April. Former Bobcats Lassi Nikkarinen, Russell Daniels, and Max Schuecker all announced their intentions to leave the Bobcat basketball program following the hiring of Sprinkle, leaving MSU with just five returning members of the 2018-19 Bobcats after the graduations of Tyler Hall, Keljin Blevins, Sam Neumann, and Usman Haruna.
However, Coach Sprinkle has been busy since taking the reins of the Bobcat program, adding seven new players to the program, in addition to the already committed Caleb Bellach. The most recent additions to the Bobcats are juco transfer Amin Adamu from Casper College, and freshmen Borja Fernandez and Zach Hobbs.
Adamu comes to Bozeman from Casper College, where he played for recently hired assistant coach Dan Russell. The London, England native averaged 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the Thunderbirds in helping guide Casper College to its first NJCAA Region IX championship in 23 years.
“He’ll be one of the top athletes in the Big Sky,” Sprinkle said. “He can really get the ball to the rim in a hurry. When he takes off, there’s not too many people that can go up with him. He’s skilled enough to where he can jump stop and kick it out to shooters. I think he’s really going to make life easier for Harald, Ladan and some of our other shooters. I think that’s the one thing we really needed in this class. A dynamic athlete that can get his own and get the ball to the rim.”
Hobbs, a heralded recruit out of Mesa High School in Mesa, Arizona is another recruit Sprinkle is excited about. Hobbs was a four-year starter for Mesa High, averaging 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals for the Jackrabbits in his senior season. For his efforts Hobbs was named the 6A East Valley Region Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year, in addition to being named an honorable mention Player of the Year candidate for the Arizona Republic.
“I think Zach’s biggest strength is his ability to shoot the basketball,” Sprinkle said. “He has great size for a high school guard. He’s going to continue to grow and get stronger. The one thing he can really do is score the basketball and shoot it from deep. It’s something essential for how I want to play. I want our team to stretch the floor. He can do some other things well too. He can put the ball on the floor, make great decisions and really pass it. He played multiple positions for his high school team, so he’s very versatile. I think the best thing he’ll be able to immediately do to impact our program will be to shoot the 3.”
The most recent addition to the Bobcat program is Borja Fernandez, a 6-7 forward from Bilbao, Spain. Fernandez has been a member of Spain’s U16 and U18 teams in international competition, so he has played against some of Europe’s best competition for his age group.
“We’re very excited about Borja,” Sprinkle said. “He gives us some versatility at the 4-spot that all great teams in this league have. Every team that’s had success in the past 10-15 years in the Big Sky has had a really good 4-man. Borja is that. He’s really skilled, he can shoot the ball and put the ball on the floor. He’s got great size, he can impact the game and he’s played at a really high level at Barcelona and on the Spanish national teams. Borja is a tremendous get for Montana State University.”
In addition to Adamu, Hobbs and Fernandez, Sprinkle’s signees include: Caleb Bellach (Fr./Manhattan, MT), Jubrile Belo (Jr./London, England), Xavier Bishop (Sr./Springfield, IL), Finn Fleute (Fr./Essen, Germany), and Mychael Paulo (Jr./Toronto, Ontario). •