Editor's note: An update to this story, reflecting new information about why Zach Schacht isn't currently committed to the Griz, can be found here.
MISSOULA — It was easy to overlook Zach Schacht’s commitment to the Montana men’s basketball team.
But it’s hard to look over the towering 6-foot-10 senior-to-be center from Billings Skyview.
Schacht committed to the Grizzlies’ class of 2019 in March but kept the news secret until he shared it in an Instagram post on April 27. He confirmed his commitment for the first time Tuesday, telling 406mtsports.com that it feels "awesome" to call himself a Grizzly.
“I’m more humble than most people think I should be,” Schacht said over the phone. “I like to keep things to myself and know that I have things going for me. I don’t want to quote-unquote rub it into people’s faces.”
“But in that April, I was doing an AAU circuit, and all my friends on the team were like, ‘Dude, you got to post about it. You got to let people know.’ I was like, ‘Alright, alright, I’ll do it for you guys.’ Because that was the last time I would play with them.”
The Griz began recruiting Schacht when he was a 6-foot-8 freshman. They were the first team from which he received any interest. It was a group effort recruiting him, checking in on him through high school and on the AAU circuit.
Schacht was born in Montana, but his parents are from Iowa and are Iowa State fans, so he didn’t have any connection to the Griz or Cats. However, he liked the Griz coaching staff and the progression of the program, which made the NCAA tournament in March, so he chose Montana over offers from Eastern Washington and Division II and NAIA teams.
“The biggest thing for me is that they run good with a big man,” said Schacht, who was an Eastern AA second-team all-conference player. “All these colleges are based around men that can shoot. I can shoot a little bit, but you won’t see me shooting 3-pointers all the time. I’m that 15-foot-range guy. That’s what they work with. They know how to use their bigs, let alone just have them there for defense.”
Schacht averaged 12.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.19 blocks per game as a starter his junior season, his second year on varsity. Bozeman’s Mack Anderson, a Griz signee in the class of 2018, led the state in rebounds and blocks this past season.
Skyview coach Kevin Morales has been impressed with how Schacht has run the court and given the Falcons an interior defensive presence.
“The way he moves up and down the floor, he has agility and he gets from rim to rim very well,” Morales said. “His defense right now is probably even better than the offense because he can time shots and he changes shots.
“He’s basically like an athletic big that can run the floor. He’s got that energy and that stamina to stay in the game and play. At 6-10, and especially being a Montana kid, the Griz were all over that right away.”
Schacht feels strongest with his defense and is hoping to continue working on his offense so he could play power forward at Montana in addition to center. He’s mainly played center at Skyview because of his height advantage.
“If I could get a little bit of dribbling down, they said I could be a pretty deadly four with a good amount of shooting,” Schacht said.
He’s hoping to close his high school career with a state championship after finishing in third place two years ago and coming up one game short of qualifying for state this past season. To do that, and to be better prepared for college, Morales is look for Schacht to work on his consistency.
“His biggest area for improvement is just to stay consistent as possible and not have those games where he doesn’t really show up in one of the columns,” Morales said. “I think it’ll be big for him and us as a team to go on is for him to be in all those columns: points, rebounds, blocked shots, even altered shots. He needs to be leading in all of those and stay consistent in those categories. He’s a pretty vocal kid, so he does a decent job there.”
Schacht is the first Skyview player to commit to the Montana men’s basketball team since Daine Muller in the class of 2013. Muller walked on and redshirted under Wayne Tinkle before following the coach to Oregon State.
Schacht is the second known commit in Montana’s 2019 class. Josh Vazquez, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Bishop Montgomery High School in California, committed on June 15.
"I have less worries now," Schacht said of why he committed early. "I know exactly where I’m going. I know the program I’m going to. I’ve already been there. Coaches are great. Love them all already. Hopefully they don’t make me run the 'M.'"
The Griz are expected to have four scholarships available for the 2019 class since Ahmaad Rorie, Mike Oguine, Bobby Moorehead and Jamar Akoh will exhaust their eligibility. They could have a fifth available if Donaven Dorsey doesn’t receive a medical hardship waiver.