Monday, June 9, 2014

Surging Interest For WCC's Montero

Luis Montero entered Westchester Community College as one of the most heralded Dominican basketball wunderkinds since heavily-hyped New York natives Felipe Lopez and Luis Flores.

The 6-foot-8 off guard/wing has been widely regarded as NBA prospect since he was 16, catapulting to cult hero status in the Caribbean.

"He's like a guard, he thinks he's 6-feet," said Westchester Community College head coach Tyrone Mushatt, noting Montero's supreme handles for his size and proclivity for creating his shot off the dribble.

"You became a danger on the floor when you create a shot like he can. There are times that he could run the one. But to me, that actually takes away from his scoring."

Montero's scoring was put into immediate use during the Vikes 16th game of the season, when he was ruled eligible at the 11th hour.

 Montero's presence in the lineup allowed Quinnipiac-bound guard Giovanni McLean to become more of a facilitator, relying less on his shot and instead spurring the attack with the rock in his hands.

Montero averaged 15.6 points, 5.9 boards, and 3.0 assists, spreading the floor by dialing in from way downtown.

He stabilized the Vikes' patented inside-outside game, supplementing an interior featuring 6-foot-8 St.John's-bound forward Keith Thomas (15.3 PPG, NJCAA-best 15.7 RPG) and freshman forward Joel Angus Jr. (12.6 PPG).

Montero has been inundated with handfuls of recruiting mail.

 The same craziness and high expectations and hyperbole that enveloped his prep career has translated to the recruitment process. Mushatt can barely get a free minute on the phone.

West Virginia, Alabama, Auburn, South Florida, and Arizona have all been in steady pursuit of Montero, who turned in a 31-point barrage during a 113-86 dumping of Rockland Community College and was pebble-smooth during a 20-point performance (8-for-13 FG) in a win over a Harcum College team laced with a Division-I bound frontline.

Bobby Huggins, despite dealing with a hip replacement, has become involved with Montero. West Virginia assistant Larry Harrison's relationship with Mushatt and the program appears promising.

Harrison, once a head coach at University of Hartford, has tightened his connection with Mushatt and WCC's staff.

Of course, South Florida head coach Orlando Antigua remains close with Mushatt and is moving at a furious pace.

Both Antigua and Mushatt played under the legendary Gary DeCesare at St. Raymond's in the early 1990s. South Florida was a finalist for the aforementioned Thomas, who ended up choosing St. John's over them as well as Loyola-Chicago, Fordham, and Florida State.

Miami was in persistent pursuit of Thomas, albeit the interest dwindled when they suddenly canceled a May 2 campus visit.

With McLean and Thomas--two-thirds of the troika that gave the Westchester its most successful season since 1996--bolting for the MAAC and the physical Big East, Montero will assume some ownership of Mushatt's team in 2014-15.

Who is showing the most love in Montero?

"Great question, I'll know a little more in about a month. He's going to Jerry Mullens (Top 100 JUCO) camp."

The camp, a certified event slated for July 11-12 in St. Louis, will gauge Montero's talent amidst the elite of the elite on the JUCO circuit.

From his arrival mid-way through the Vikes 28-4 the season, which culminated with a berth in the JUCO national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., Montero's shot and playmaking acumen has lived up to the rich billing.

Now Montero must sharpen all components as his game. He can expect box-and-ones and heightened pressure while adjusting to the focal point role.

Mushatt said Montero has been working with a nutritionist and working out everyday, looking to pack some muscle onto a spindly 190-pound frame.

"He's going to have to come back stronger and better," Mushatt said.

"I'm bringing in a real good point guard, that will make his life a little easier. Last year we had a trifecta. We had a real good point guard who could do everything and we had a real good forward. Luis is going to be the guy next year."