Wyoming's Kelby Kramer

Wyoming's Kelby Kramer (25) snags a rebound away from Montana's Brendan Howard during the Midland Roundtable Montana-Wyoming All-Star Basketball Series at the Fortin Center on Saturday. Kramer is headed to Missoula next year to play basketball for the Griz.

REBECCA NOBLE, Gazette Staff

Kelby Kramer and Brendan Howard were giving fans an early look at what a future Big Sky Conference basketball matchup could entail this past weekend. 

Howard, Montana's Mr. Basketball, is heading to Eastern Washington next season while Kramer, a 6-foot-10 post from Rock Springs High School in Wyoming, will head to Missoula to join Travis DeCuire and the Montana Grizzlies as one of the newest members to the men's basketball team.

Kramer showcased his skills in front of a Montana crowd over the weekend during the Midland Roundtable Montana-Wyoming All-Star Basketball Series. In the first game at Sheridan College, Kramer was second on the Wyoming team in scoring with 14 points while in the second outing he scored two points at the Fortin Center at Rocky Mountain College.

For the big man, he's excited to take the next step in his basketball career.

"I'm really looking forward to working hard, improving my game and winning a Big Sky Championship up there," Kramer said. "Definitely the atmosphere in Missoula (stood out to me). It has a great sports environment. Along with that it has what I need academically and I really like the coaching staff and it was a good fit with the team."

Kramer visited the campus in mid-October and verbally committed on Halloween. He signed his letter of intent in early November. 

"When they first offered me a scholarship, I knew it was a really prolific program in the Big Sky Conference and they have a good fan base," he said. "When I went on my official visit I just fell in love with the campus, fell in love with everything about it, and I was like 'This is the place for me.'"

Kramer led Rock Springs to the Wyoming 4A state championship game this past winter, averaging 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game. He earned all-state recognition.  

Kramer's mother, Marlene, grew up in the tiny Montana town of Roberts. She played high school basketball before joining the squad at Rocky Mountain College where she has been inducted into the school's Hall of Fame. Kramer's father, Richard, played college basketball at Montana Tech.

Playing college basketball was always a goal of Kramer's. 

"I didn't really know if I could play it, especially at the Division I level, until I started growing a little more," he said. "I got to 6-9, 6-10 before my senior year and started playing AAU."

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Over the weekend, Kramer had a chance to meet Billings West's Bryson and Braydon Deming, who will join him at Montana but as football players instead. 

As for any open gym one-on-one challenges, Braydon Deming isn't sure that'll happen.

"I think he's too tall for me," Deming said. "I got him once, but I don't think I can do that more than one time. He's going to block my shot just about every time."

Meanwhile Howard is looking forward to future match ups with Kramer in a more official capacity.

"He's a good player," said Howard, the two-time Gatorade Montana Player of the Year. "We just have to go out and make sure we take care of business every time we go out on the court and just look at what we can do and what works best for us. So it'll be a good little thing."

The two challenged each other plenty of times in the two games down in the post. Expect more of the same in the years to come.

"Brendan's a fantastic player," Kramer said. "I'll have to develop a lot in order to take him on. The Deming twins are really nice. Great people and solid athletes, so it'll be fun to be on campus with them and to go against Brendan Howard in the future.

"I got a couple of blocks on (Howard), but then he stroked some 3s on me. It was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed our matchup and I took a lot away from it."

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