MISSOULA — When Class of 2022 guard Jaxon Nap visited the University of Montana campus for a visit, he needed some time to sleep on his decision whether or not to commit to the Grizzlies men’s basketball team.
Not long after getting back home to Renton, Washington, Nap had his mind made up.
“If we are being 100% honest I went into the visit expecting to wait,” Nap said during a Wednesday phone interview. “I had a couple other colleges looking at me and I was probably going to visit. One of the things I do on visits is I try to see myself there. I try to envision myself at the school. I try to envision myself with the team, with the guys. And I just fell in love with it. Every second I was there I was like ‘I am gonna have to go back home to high school. It is going to suck leaving all this.’ … Right as I got home I was like ‘I wanna go there.’”
Nap officially made his verbal commitment to the Grizzlies public Wednesday on Twitter. He is the third known Class of 2022 verbal commitment for the Grizzlies along with Shelby High big man Rhett Reynolds and guard Isaiah Kerr out of southern California.
Extremely excited and blessed to be able to announce my commitment to play division 1 basketball at the university of Montana! I would like to thank my family, players, and coaches that have helped me along my journey and gotten me to where I am today! Go Griz! #Committed pic.twitter.com/1HgQJ4nWJ2— Jaxon Nap (@JaxonNap) September 14, 2021
Nap has seen Reynolds play through the club circuit and had some praise for his fellow Class of 2022 recruit.
“I got to watch Rhett play and I feel like he is one of those guys who can really be put anywhere as an athletic four man,” Nap said. “He is going to get stronger and faster once he gets into college basketball.”
Nap’s decision came between a few other Big Sky Conference squads as he said Southern Utah, Eastern Washington and Montana State had interest. He said a large reason he chose Montana was because the Grizzlies offered him earlier than the others, just a week after they watched him in mid July.
Nap said he played well against a club team called Prodigy, in front of upwards of 60 college coaches wrapped around the gym over the summer in Irvine, California. He played well, well enough to get some attention form coaches watching. That was the first time he chatted with the Grizzlies, who then offered Nap a scholarship about a week later.
“(Montana) was one of like three Division I schools that were talking to me and then, ever since that game, they watched every single game up until they offered me,” Nap said.
On the court, Nap is a lanky 6-foot-6 — or 6-7 with shoes on if you ask him — lefty who actually plays a good bit of point guard for his club team Friends of Hoop Seattle, which was the prep home of current Grizzlies big Scott Blakney. Of course being from the Seattle area Nap knows plenty of Freddy Brown III too.
Those point guard skills are there because, well, that is what he was up until he grew six inches between his junior and senior years. He was 6-foot flat at the start of his junior year, and now as his senior season is coming up he is at 6-6.
Grizzlies head coach Travis DeCuire stressed adding versatility to the roster — which played into the additions in the Class of 2021 — and that theme holds with Nap.
“For my height and size I could be able to guard a three or a four,” Nap said. “I could get in the game and play with someone like Brandon Whitney, Cam Parker and Robby Beasley and hop into the game with two or three of those guys at the guard spots and then I have someone like a four on the other team like a 6-8 or 6-9 guy who I feel like with my guard skills I can put in a mismatch being able to shoot the 3, get to the basket and lessen the load on the other point guards.”