MT. Prep basketball: Three stars on the Highline

Joe Stulc of Winifred

Over the past few months I have been asked on a couple occasions to do more on prep sports or Frontier Conference basketball. I am not sure if I can but, from time to time I expect to do a few posts that may loosely fall into these and other categories out side of MSU and UM basketball and recruiting.

One of the stories that has interested me over the past 2-3 years has been the development of three very good basketball players along the High Line of Montana only 45 miles apart as the crows fly, in the towns of Big Sandy and Winifred. Winifred features Joes Stulc a slick shooting 6-5 wing man while Big Sandy feature both Blake Brumwell, a burly 6-8 post, as well as Corbin Pearson, a 6-5 sweet shooting combo forward.

College basketball prospects let along D-1 prospects are not all that common among the Class-C schools in Montana, yet these two schools with an total enrollment of less than 135 have three and it has lead to some great basketball and debates the past few years.

The basketball games have pretty much spoken for themselves with Winifred holding a slight advantage over the past couple of years over Big Sandy, but these teams have played some knock down drag out games. Since they play in the Northern –C, they seem to play each other 4-5 times a year. It has been a great rivalry to watch.

These teams are so close together and play so often the question that inevitably asked is, who the better player is, and that is usually followed up with, is” are they D-1 prospects”. As you might guess by reading this blog, for any amount of time, it is the latter question that I have been trying to get answered. In answering the second question, though, does it answer the first question? Maybe, or maybe not.

I have not had the chance to see these guy’s play in person, so I have had to picked the brains of all sorts of folks over the past few years trying to try to figure out the inside scoop on all them. I have to admit, I really do not feel I have these guy’s nailed yet. This is, though, the impression I have gotten from talking to folks.

Joe Stulc of Winifred, at 6-5 (or better according to some) can play inside at the high school level, but has the perimeter shooting ability that is better suited for the wing positions. He is said to be one of the better 3 point shooters in the Class-C. In college he is projected to play the small forward or shooting guard spot, but may need to work on his ball skills to make the jump. A scorer, look for him to average around 25 points a game this season.

Blake Brumwell of Big Sandy at 6-8(ish) and 240 is a pure post. Against Class-C competition he has been putting up big numbers scoring and rebounding. He is a throw back to the post players of the about 20 years ago. He signed with Montana State last month. He plays the post in high school and will play the post in college. While capable of scoring 25 points and pulling down 15 rebounds a game, but if last years patterns seem hold true, he and team mate Pearson seem to alternate big scoring and rebounding games, still I would expect him to average a double double this year.

Blake Brumwell of Big Sandy

Corbin Pearson also of Big Sandy is a 6-5 forward who like Stulc can play inside or on the perimeter. As I understand it Pearson is most likely the better athlete of the three, but not quite the shooter Stulc is. Pearson plays all 3 front court positions for Big Sandy, but  is projected as combo forward in college. He is also a very good rebounder. Like I mentioned before Pearson and Brumwell seemed alternate big 25+ point games with one another so in the end they there averages do tend to get muted a little, but over the past few years it has always amazed me how actually close their averages were by seasons end.

To the “Who is better” question. I have absolutely no clear idea which player might be “the best”, but I think “the best” might depend on what you are looking for. Of the people I have talked to, most have their guy, and they feel strong about it. A few other people who I have talked will literally change their minds month to month. In the past 2 years I have yet to even come close to a consensus opinion and basically gave up last summer. I think each player has his strengths, and weaknesses, I think you have to look at them as individual players that are so close, that if you like big men you may like one guy, and  if you like shooters you may like another. It is all in the eye of the beholder

When it comes to debating, who among the three could be successful D-1 players, though, that is where things start to get a little dicey for me. I don’t mind the debate when it is on the merits of each player. When the debate start to go down the road of promoting one of the players, by pointing out the faults of one (or two) of the others it starts to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I understand it, three great class-C players, playing for rival schools in a close net community, and going head to head 3-5 times a year, it builds that natural comparisons, but let’s not forget they are all three great high school players. I do not feel, though, that one player’s perceived weaknesses really effects another player’s ability or prospects in college, but yet still it seems to be the way many used to justify why their player is worthy. A player either is or isn’t, he/she needs to prove it on their own.

I think both of these team have an excellent chance of making it to the Class-C championship game, but if they do, I am betting Joe Stulc may come out as the Class-C MVP. His Winifred team seems to always get the better of the Winifred vs. Big Sandy match up the past couple of seasons. He will also be the best player on the best team. “To the victor goes the spoils of war” argument, but it could just as easily go the other way.

Here are a few notes concerning rumors that I have heard about recruiting interest from D-1 schools:

  • As mentioned above Brumwell signed with Montana State this spring, so obviously he will play D-1 ball. I am told UM was not offer him, but did recruit him. From the MSU side I was told that UM did not offered him because Brumwell told them he was only interested in playing for the Bobcat’s. From the UM side the coaches did not offer because they had other priorities.
  • I have heard from multiple sources that both MSU and UM staffs were recruiting both Brumwell and Pearson during their junior and sophomore years. I have heard any further rumor /updates on Pearson’s recruitment for about 9-12 months, so I do not know what his plans were.
    While I believe both Huse and Tinkle have talked to Stulc I have not heard anything to indicate that either are or have actively recruited him.
  • I was told by someone that I really respect that Stulc is the prices catch/recruit this year for the Frontier conference. When this was said to me it was assumed that neither MSU nor UM would sign any players from the state this year. Before I wrote this I asked that source if he still felt this way now and he told me he still felt Stulc was the man.
  • Rumor has it that Montana State – Northern may be the leader for Stulc’s services.

So there you go, make up your own mind, but if you get the chance check one or all three of these guy’s out, an know who ever is better and where ever they end up they will all three get the opportunity to play ball and excel at the next level.


3 Responses to “MT. Prep basketball: Three stars on the Highline”

  1. December 10, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Joe’s services are between Rocky MSU-B and Butte in no order Huse in havre has no chance with stulc due to complication with joe’s cousin brian foran.

  2. December 10, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I grew up in Frazer on the HiLine and I am a big fan of kids from small schools getting a chance to play D1. The Robin & Doug Selvig were from Outlook, Alan Nielsen from Westby are three players that come to mind off the top of my head.

    You do realize that neither Big Sandy or Winifred are on the HI Line? US 2 to the Canada border is usually considered to be the HiLine.

    I really appreciate your work.


  3. 3 longhorn_22
    December 10, 2009 at 12:44 am

    Great read mslacat. Well worth the time. Thanks!

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