Jared Samuelson is a country boy at heart.
The redshirt freshman for the Montana men's basketball team was raised in Billings, but he took every opportunity he had to spend time on his grandparents' ranch in Powder River country.
His father is Shawn Samuelson, who played for the Griz from 1993-96 and still ranks 11th on the Grizzlies' list of all-time scorers -- with 1,293 points -- and fifth in rebounds with 791.
The younger Samuelson spent last season adjusting to the college game as a redshirt and is backing up junior Fabijan Krslovic in the post this season.
He took a few minutes recently to visit with the Missoulian.
Q. Was there any doubt you would go to Montana if you were offered the chance?
A. No, ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a Griz. Growing up I was always a Griz. My dad played here and my mom went to school here. I’ve always been a fan. No doubt in my mind.
Q. What was your reaction when you were offered?
A. I was ecstatic beyond belief. I was blessed that coach (Travis) DeCuire offered me a scholarship to play here. I knew from the get-go that this is where I was going to end up.
Q. I know your dad played for Broadus, but you grew up in Billings?
A. My dad’s family is from Broadus, so I spent a lot of time down there. I wish I would have grown up down there, to be honest. It’s the lifestyle.
Q. Have you spent a lot of time on the family ranch?
A. I spend as much time as I can. Last year every weekend that I had off. I spent spring break there and a lot of time in the summer, helping out with brandings and everything down there.
Q. What do you like about that lifestyle?
A. I love the family and I love just being out in the open land, country stuff. I love riding horses. I’m a little bit better than my dad, who broke his pelvis. He’s fine now, but I have to give him crap for it.
Q. What do you think you gained by sitting out as a redshirt last season?
A. The level of play is a lot different jumping from high school and AAU basketball to this. Everybody’s a lot stronger, quicker and their basketball IQ is a lot higher. I think it helped out a lot. I had to get my body right too. Overall, that year helped a lot.
Q. What do you mean by getting your body right?
A. Lose some weight. I had some back problems. I had to sit out from the end of my high school season until I got here. I hurt my back in Butte in a playoff game. I remember right after I did it, I couldn’t even bend my knees or back to shoot a free throw. I wore a brace for the state tournament and I’ve never felt so stiff in my life. I felt like an old man.
Q. Not that there’s anything wrong with that?
A. Nothing wrong with that at all.
Q. What’s been the adjustment to playing this season?
A. I just want to help my team out to the best of my ability.
Q. Give me a scouting report on Jared Samuelson.
A. Jump hook. Can go left or right inside the post and can extend out to 18 feet for a jumper. I haven’t shot too many threes this year, but that’s in my arsenal I would say.
Q. I read that you have a basketball shoe collection.
A. I’ve kind of been down on that ever since I got to college, to save a lot more money. I love to collect shoes, the retro Jordans and old-school Jordans. I’ll get those and my dad will be like, ‘I had these back in the day.’ I’ll show my uncles and they’ll say, ‘I had the same shoe.’
Q. You’ve had a hole-in-one since you’ve been in Missoula.
A. That was the most unreal experience of my life. I was out golfing with a bunch of buddies from the team at Linda Vista. We take it serious. We’re competitive on the golf course too. I hit this shot and I hear Trevor (Spoja) talking crap to me. He’s like, ‘That doesn’t look good.’ It started slicing back and slicing back. He’s like, ‘Oh, that might be a good shot.’ It took two bounces and went straight in the hole. I started running over to the green just to make sure it actually went in the hole. I thought it might be hiding behind the pin. I’ve always wanted to get a hole-in-one, especially with all my basketball buddies around me. The funny thing is that was like my second time out golfing in two or three years. I was using Trevor’s clubs, which were way too short for me.
Q. Your bio mentions that you like hunting and fishing with your dad. Where do you do that?
A. I can’t hunt now because it’s during basketball season. Ever since I turned 12 every year in the fall I would go with my dad, my brother on occasion and my uncles. That was the best time of my life. Over on my grandparents’ ranch. Mulies and elk. I killed an elk my eighth grade year with a rifle. It’s tough to draw that tag, so it was pretty sweet to do that.
Q. Where do you fish?
A. The Tongue River, mostly. Catfish, smallmouth bass and walleye on occasion. Then we also have dams on the ranch that are stocked.