This is not about a Montana basketball wunderkind the Griz just had to sign years before he would even be eligible to play college ball.

No, the University of Montana did not have to try to beat a huge recruiting crush for the services of 12-year-old Wyatt Grove of Great Falls. What they succeeded in doing is reaching out to inspire others and build bonds among their players and staff that are far bigger than any product they put on the court.

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Nic Hallisey, UM Sports Information, reports that during a ceremony yesterday (Thursday) at the Adams Center on the UM campus, Wyatt, accompanied by his family, signed his National Letter of Intent to be part of the Montana basketball team. With all the adversity he has dealt with in his young life, there is no doubt that he is already one tough Grizzly.

When Wyatt was 7 years old, the headaches began. Antibiotics were of no help. The next step was an MRI, which led to news that no parents want to hear about a child: there was a cancerous tumor on the back of Wyatt's brain.

Emergency surgery in Salt Lake City to remove it. Periodic treatments back and forth from Great Falls. After several years, things were looking pretty favorable. Until...

This past winter, a second tumor was discovered. Another surgery to remove it. More time living in Salt Lake City than in Great Falls.

Team IMPACT is an organization whose mission is to "connect kids with serious illness and disability to local college athletic teams in order to form lifelong bonds and life-changing outcomes." Grizzly basketball head coach Travis DeCuire took that inspiring mission statement to heart. He and his coaching staff then did a deeper dive into Wyatt's story.

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From there, phone conversations led to on-campus and in-home visits between coaches and recruit this spring. It was immediately apparent that well-conditioned, Division I college basketball athletes could take the leads of a 12-year-old who has battled so much  adversity, and apply life lessons to their performances on the court.

Wyatt Grove will never be on any opponent's scouting report. He will never lead the Big Sky Conference in statistical categories. Coach DeCuire joked that he will never have to worry about him entering the transfer portal.

No, by signing a National Letter of Intent, what Wyatt will bring to the program are those intangibles, teaching his teammates what it means to have heart and courage, and how his presence off the court can be enormous motivation when you're number is called to get on the floor and represent Griz Nation.

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Congrats to Wyatt and his family and to Grizzly basketball.

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