"Yeah that's interesting, it's kind of crazy actually," said Selvig, who's from Glendive. "And unique. There's always been a few on the team."
Over the last decade, the Montana men's program has never played with a roster featuring any less than three Montanans. During the late 1980s, when coach Tinkle was in his playing days with the team, there were often even more than that.
Historically, Grizzly basketball was built around home-grown talent with transplants from other states in the region. A quick scan through this season's roster proves the team is now solely composed of a diverse array of players from nearby states.
Four from Washington. Three from California. One each from places like Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, North Dakota and Oregon. And again, just the one from Montana.
The issue is something Montana State's basketball program is dealing with, too. In 2010-11, the Bobcats suited a single Treasure Stater, senior Bobby Howard from Great Falls. Redshirt freshman Blake Brumwell (Big Sandy) and freshman Steven Davis (Billings) are also on the roster, but only Davis has logged any minutes. The forward has seen four minutes of action and scored no points.
"It's a priority for us to look at guys that can contribute to the program. We're under a crunch to get guys in that can contribute now," said Bobcat coach Brad Huse on his team's similar lack of in-state recruits.
Another possible contributing factor to why Selvig and Howard have little to no Montana teammates, Tinkle said, is the change in available scholarships for men's basketball. At the Division I level, where the Grizzlies compete in the Big Sky Conference, 15 scholarships used to be the norm. That number was pushed back to 13 in the early 1990s, making it more difficult for the program to "take chances" on recruits. The coaching staff has less room for error.
Fewer scholarships have also made it less likely for young players to walk-on with the team hoping to win over coaches and scholarship dollars as upper classmen.
"There used to be kids that would cut off their left arm for that opportunity," Tinkle said.
On the women's side of things, coach Robin Selvig (Derek's uncle) has made his living off of in-state pickups. This season the team boasted eight Montanans – six that have seen game time.
That disparity proves how deep the girls' basketball talent pool is at the high school level in the state, Tinkle said. You can't even compare the two, he added, especially considering the Lady Griz have 15 scholarships to hand out.
So could there be a future when each Montana Grizzly is an import from outside of Montana?
"It could be possible," said Tinkle with a shrug. "It'd be unfortunate for the tradition and the state pride."
For now Derek Selvig has to be the only man to carry on the tradition. He can do it, Tinkle said, because Selvig embodies Montana basketball. He is Montana and his family has more ties to the program than a Macy's on Father's Day. His uncle is in his 32nd year as the women's head coach. Both of his parents suited up for the Griz in the 80s, as did an aunt. Now his sister Carly is a freshman for the Lady Griz.
Coming from Dawson County High School in Glendive, the 7-foot Selvig has been living the Montana lifestyle since he was born. The shooter said he loves the open outdoors — which there's plenty of in rural eastern Montana — and still tries to get out to hunt deer and pheasant every fall with fellow Grizzly Brian Qvale.
Back on the court, a little pressure comes with being Montanan's lone Montanan, but it's a badge Selvig said he wears proudly.
"I kind of take some pride in that," Selvig said of living up to the program and his family's histories. "It's important we have Montana kids in this program. The community attaches to those guys. Hopefully the coaches can find more of that talent."