Montana basketball: Griz sign Norwegian pro player as point guard
Montana head men’s basketball coach Travis DeCuire has added depth to the Grizzly backcourt, signing 6-1 point guard Lars Espe from the Gimle BBK club in Bergen, Norway, to a National Letter of Intent on Monday.
Espe, an 18-year-old, was named Young Player of the Year last season in the BLNO, Norway’s premiere professional basketball league.
From 2014-2018 he has represented Norway on the international stage, first at the U-16 European-B championships in 2014. In the 2016-2017 season, he captained the Norwegian U-18 national team as well.
In two seasons with Gimle BBK, Espe has played in 43 games and made 31 starts, averaging over 15 points per game. A skilled ball handler, Espe has also given out 166 assists in that time, 108 of which came in his 2016-17 season, averaging five per-game.
DeCuire will look to Espe to bring that floor leader mentality to Dahlberg Arena.
“We needed someone that can manipulate the defense, get the ball where it needs to be, and also someone that allows Ahmaad to play off the ball a little bit and focus on scoring when we need to do that,” said DeCuire.
“He’s a pure point. He definitely knows how to create shots for others, he knows where guys are at, he’s got very good court awareness, and I think he’ll be special in addition to what we have coming back.”
With an average of 27 minutes per game in a professional league, DeCuire says Espe will also bring an on-court experience that is hard to find with prep recruits in the U.S.
“The other thing that’s attractive about Lars is that in Norway, he’s playing at a professional level. He’s playing against grown men. So, for a freshman to come in and be able to play right away for you, sometimes going abroad is a pretty good option just because of the experience.”
Espe is the fifth player the Grizzlies have added to the squad in the 2016-17 year.
Lars Espe – 6-1 – G – Bergen, Norway (Gimle BBK)
Niko Bevens – 6-6 – G – Beaverton, Ore. (North Idaho College)
Timmy Falls – 6-2 – G – Dublin, Calif. (Dublin HS)
Karl Nicholas – 6-7 – F – Pearland, Texas (Dawson HS)
Kelby Kramer – 6-10 – C – Rock Springs, Wyo. (Rock Springs HS)