By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Ethan Kilgore announced on March 22 that he was transferring from Idaho after two years with the Vandals in the Division I Big Sky Conference.
His phone lit up, as one could imagine. One of the very first people to reach him - Missouri Western men's basketball coach Will Martin.
"Me and coach Martin have known each other for several years now," Kilgore told the St. Joseph Post Wednesday. "I knew him when I was in high school. I came up to Missouri Western and played with the guys, had a little unofficial with coach (Sundance) Wicks. He and him have maintained a good relationship over the years."
Wicks went on to become an assistant coach at Wyoming after the 2019-20 season, leaving Martin as the new head man for the Griffons the past two seasons.
Kilgore fulfilled his dream of playing at the DI level during that time, appearing in 51 games and making five career starts in two years with the Vandals.
When Kilgore put his name in the portal last month, he and coach Martin had a chance to reconnect.
"From then on, we talked every day," Kilgore said. "We were on the phone, we were texting. Not even talking about basketball. Just continuing to rebuild our relationship. All of the guys on the team at Missouri Western are great dudes. I really enjoyed hanging out with them and spending time with them."
Kilgore formally announced Wednesday that he'll spend his remaining three years of eligibility playing for Missouri Western - a short 20 minutes up the road from where he grew up in Gower.
"I'm excited to get back home and play for all of my people and everyone I love being around," he said. "I think it's a really special situation. I've been smiling all morning. I've been so excited. I'm ready to get back and get to work."
Kilgore scored 95 points and grabbed 79 rebounds in 30 games for Idaho this past season, while tallying 87 points and 49 boards the year prior.
He left East Buchanan as the program's all-time leading scorer with 2,487 points, and was named first team all-state for three straight years, averaging double-doubles his junior and senior seasons.
A 6-5, 210-pound guard, Kilgore believes he'll add versatility to the Western lineup.
"I have a really good IQ on the court," he said. "I can shoot it really well from three, I'm an athletic big and can hang my hat on the defensive end as well. I think everything will translate well. I think Coach Martin and (assistant coach Jon Hood) and the whole staff is going to push me."
"I pride myself on how hard I work. Nobody will outwork me."
Kilgore joins a Western team that returns seven of its top nine scorers from this past season.
While starters and all-MIAA performers Q Mays and Caleb Bennett are gone, the Griffons added two other transfers in the offseason - 6-10 center and East Tennessee State transfer Matt Nunez, along with forward and Morehead State transfer Julius Dixon.
"I'm excited to compete on a weekly basis with my guys on the team," Kilgore said, "and against the other people I know and have heard of. I think it's a good situation. The MIAA is special, and I'm just happy that I'm going to suit up and compete in it."
Kilgore is looking to study construction engineering technology at Missouri Western with a minor in construction management.
He's going to be in Idaho through mid-May to finish out the school year and get through finals. After that, he looks forward to being back home and celebrating this move in-person.
"As soon as I get home, I'm going to head up to St. Joe to see Coach Martin and everybody and get started."
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