At the end of his high school basketball career, Havre High senior Cory Brothers was left with one very difficult choice - where to continue his hoop dreams.
Tuesday afternoon, Brothers finally made his choice.
Montana State University-Northern men's basketball head coach Shawn Huse announced that Brothers is indeed staying home, and will begin his college basketball career next fall for the Lights. Brothers recently signed an NAIA national letter of intent to play for MSU-Northern beginning in the fall of 2004.
At the start of his senior season, Brothers narrowed his choice of schools down to Northern and Montana State University. He said that his final decision came down to several factors, but the main one was opportunity.
"I decided to stay here and go to Northern because I will have a chance to play right away," Brothers said. "I always felt that Northern would be a good fit for me and hopefully I'll have a chance to contribute to the team right away.
"I'm pretty excited about it because it is nice to have the chance to stay home and play for good program like Northern," Brothers added. "I know that I will have a lot of support here as well."
Huse echoed Brothers sentiments of excitement and said that landing Brothers was a key step in the maturation process of his program.
"Cory is one of the premiere prospects in the state of Montana," Huse said. "We are very fortunate for a player of his caliber to choose to play at Northern.
"This is big for our program because I think we have things headed in the right direction and I think getting a player like Cory will help keep the ship going in that direction," Huse added. "One of our goals was to try to get two quality in-state players each year and last year I felt like we did that. With Cory this year, we're definitely off to a good start."
Considering what Brothers has accomplished in the last four years, Huse admitted that getting him to commit to Northern was a major steal.
"Cory was definitely on the Division I radar screen," Huse said. "I know that in Billings last weekend at the Sheraton tournament, most coaches felt that he was the premiere player in that all-star tournament."
Brothers accomplishments include four years as a varsity player for the Blue Ponies, starting for three of those seasons. He has twice been named all-conference and all-state. He was named the Central A player of the year in each of the last two seasons.
Brothers has a career scoring average of better than 22 points per game. In 2004, he led Havre High to the Central A divisional tournament championship and a third-place finish at the State A tournament in Belgrade.
He is also a finalist for the Gatorade Player of the Year in Montana as well as a McDonald's All-American candidate. His high school career will undoubtedly culminate with a spot on the prestigious Montana/Wyoming All Star Classic this summer.
Brothers said that aside from playing time, his decision also became clear with a little help from a current Northern player, as well as his own liking for Huse.
"Lamar Morinia and I talked a lot through this season and he helped me out a lot," Brothers said. "He really helped me understand what it was like to play at Northern, and he was big in helping me decide to play here."
"I also really like coach Huse," Brothers added. "I know that he is a great coach and he runs a great program. I have always liked the style of basketball that he plays and he really made me feel like I would be a good fit in his program."
While Brothers is hoping to see immediate playing time for the Lights next season, Huse said that time will tell. He does leave the decision of whether or not a player redshirts up to each individual. And he believes that physically, Brothers appears ready to make the transition to life in the Frontier Conference.
"There is a huge upside to a player like Cory," Huse said. "I would say that he has the game and the physical ability to step in and play for us right away. But we will have to wait and see what our needs are and where he fits in to addressing those needs.
"A lot of where Cory will fit in right away will depend on how quickly he picks up on the little things and the intricacies of Frontier Conference basketball. He definitely has a lot to grasp" Huse added. "But Cory is a tremendous talent and he works very hard at his game. I am really excited to get a player who brings that mentality to our program. He literally eats, sleeps and breathes basketball."
Huse is also not only excited about getting Brothers the player, but getting Brothers the student-athlete and the person. He said that landing a player of Brothers caliber and to get him to stay and play basketball in his home town is a win-win situation for everybody.
"I really hope the community of Havre continues to embrace him now that he is in our program," Huse said. "He is one of our own and I think it is really exciting for everyone involved. Cory is a great player, a great student and a great person. We are very fortunate to have him join our program.
"It is going to be a lot of fun to watch him grow into a great college basketball player and it will be fun to watch that process unfold right here in Havre for the next four years."
Said Brothers: "I am really happy with decision I made. In the end it just felt like the right fit for me. I am really looking forward to next fall and just getting my college career at Northern started."