Allan Nielsen Award: Gfeller makes history at Griz awards ceremony
Senior guard Brandon Gfeller became the first player in Montana history to earn the Allan Nielsen Award for the Player that Best Represents Grizzly Basketball for a fourth-consecutive year on Tuesday at the team’s annual end-of-year award ceremony.
Other award winners were senior guard Mario Dunn, who received the Naseby Rhinehart Award (Most Inspirational Player) and junior forward Fabijan Krslovic, who was tabbed the recipient of the Dennis T. Murphy Award (Coaches’ Award).
Sophomore guard Michael Oguine also received the John Eaheart Award (Outstanding Defensive Player) for a second-straight year, and freshman guard Sayeed Pridgett earned the Ryan Dick Award (Most Improved Player), while sophomore guard Ahmaad Rorie earned the Carl E. Dragstedt Award for the team’s Most Valuable Player.
Gfeller, Krslovic, and Dunn were also recognized for serving as UM’s 2016-17 season-long captains with the Captain’s Award.
Gfeller caps his outstanding athletic and academic career at Montana with the Allan Nielsen Award, just a week after winning the school’s prestigious Grizzly Cup award for overall student-athlete performance in class, community, and competition.
The Colfax, Wash., native and team captain will graduate this spring with a degree in accounting as one Montana’s all-time great three-point shooters, finishing his career just 15 made threes shy of the school record of 218 set by Kevin Criswell.
Gfeller is also a four-time Academic All-Big Sky selection and was Montana’s nominee for the 2017 Allstate NABC Good Works Team for his involvement in the community.
Rorie earns the Carl E. Dragstedt Award as the team’s MVP after leading the Griz in scoring during his first year in maroon and silver with an average of 17.6 points per game.
The All-Big Sky second team selection started all 31 games of the season for UM, and averaged the most minutes on the team at 32.5 while averaging nearly 45 percent from the field.
Rorie earned the Big Sky Player of the Week award on in the final week of the regular season after averaging 25 points in two key road wins at Weber State and Idaho State. He also finished with the league’s best assist to turnover ratio, giving out 97 assists to only 47 turnovers.
Krslovic, the team captain and winner of the Dennis T. Murphy Coaches’ Award, also picked up a Big Sky Player of the Week award in December after a near triple-double performance against San Jose State followed by a double-figures scoring performance against Wyoming.
Regarded as UM’s “Mr. Hustle”, the junior from Sydney, Australia, led the team in rebounds, and finished the season with the Big Sky’s sixth-best field goal percentage at .554 and sixth-most offensive rebounds, averaging 2.3 per contest.
Dunn served as team captain and winner of the Naseby Rhinehart Award for Most Inspirational Player, a fitting recognition after closing out his career at UM as a trusted advisor to the Grizzly coaching staff as a player/coach, having never fully recovered from wrist surgery his junior year.
As a senior, the Oakland, Calif., native saw action in 23 games and carried the team’s second-best three-point percentage at .405, making 15 of 37 attempts from behind the arc. As a sophomore, he received an All-Big Sky Honorable Mention and the John Eaheart Award for UM’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
Oguine earns the John Eaheart Memorial Award for the second-straight year with the second most steals (37) and rebounds (156) on the team, despite missing the first five games of the season due to injury. His totals in steals and offensive rebounds placed him among the Big Sky’s top-10 performers.
For the second-straight year, Oguine averaged over 11 points per game with and 11.9 PPG average in 2016-17, landing him a place on the All-Big Sky third team. In just two seasons, Oguine has scored 673 points, more than halfway to joining UM’s 1,000 point club.
Freshman guard Sayeed Pridgett earned this year’s Ryan Dick Award for the team’s Most Improved Player after shooting the Big Sky’s eleventh-best field goal percentage at .524.
The true freshman from Oakland, Calif., played in all 31 games for the Griz, and earned 11 starts, putting up a career-high 28 points against Sacramento State.