Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Oregon-Bound Lyle Hits Game-Winning 3 for Huntington Prep, Gill-Caesar Talks Colleges, Possible Reclass
By JOHN PAVIA
Special to ZAGSBLOGNEW YORK — In a thrilling quarterfinal contest in the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament, Montaque “Teki” Gill-Caesar stood out on his very talented Huntington (W.V) Prep team as they defeated La Lumiere (IN), 65-63.
Gill-Caesar, ranked 18th in ESPN’s Super 60 for the Class of 2015, finished with a game-high 20 points in the game played at Christ the King High School in Queens.
Oregon commitJaQuan Lyle tallied 11 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer from the right wing and right in front of the Huntington bench. 2015 center Thomas Bryant added 14 points and eight rebounds while Providence commit Jalen Lindsay notched 11 points.
La Lumiere was led by Jalen Coleman with 16 points and Auburn commit Sam Logwood with 14 points in the losing effort.
Gill-Caesar and his Huntington Prep (28-4) — playing in this event for the first time — will face the winner of Monteverde Academy (FL) and Sagemont (FL) on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Christ the King. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Just before Lyle’s shot, Coleman had hit a 3 to put La Lumiere up 63-62.
Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford discussed his strategy on drawing up the final play.
“We actually had called a back-screen lob for Thomas [Bryant] and if we didn’t get that then Josh [Perkins] was going to get it in the corner and quick it back out to JaQuan,” he said. “They did a really good job of being physical and guarding the actual play and sometimes kids just have to step up and make a play and obviously JaQuan made a huge shot.”
“I mean, he makes shots,” Fulford added. “I think it’s just a situation that at the end and it’s a feel thing for a coach. I mean, he hadn’t shot the ball particularly well, but we kind of knew that putting the back-screen in there with Thomas coming around that there was a lot of things going on in the lane so we would at least get a look from him [JaQuan] at the end and he made a great shot.”
Said Lyle of his game-winner: “It felt real good. I mean, when I let the ball go, it felt good so I mean, man, just watching it go through the net. My teammates came up the court and I’m not even sure if the time ran off the clock yet, but I mean, it just felt wonderful and I’m glad we got the win.”
On a team as talented as Huntington Prep, La Lumiere had a difficult decision on which players to focus on defensively and often, Gill-Caesar was left open or was presented with gaps that he attacked for easy baskets.
“I just took what the defense was giving me,” Gill-Caesar said. “They sagged off a little bit and my shot was falling so my coach kept telling me to keep shooting and that’s what I did.”
Gill-Caesar, who is contemplating the possibility of reclassifying from 2015 to 2014, has not changed his stance much since.
“No update on that all,” he said. “Just a possibility right now.”
He doesn’t have any target date for when he will make his choice.
With that in mind, he did mention that Kansas, Michigan State, Florida State, Kentucky, Illinois, Providence and West Virginia have been recruiting him the hardest of late, but he does not have any visits planned in the near future.
Gill-Caesar also had time to speak about what it’s been like having to follow Wiggins as the next highly touted prospect from Huntington Prep; the two played together last year in Wiggins’ final high school season.
“It feels good,” he said. “It puts a little pressure on me, but you know, pressure is going to be there every day, not even with basketball, but just with life so you’ve got to learn how to deal with it regardless. It feels special to be compared to someone like that. Just his personality off the court and on the court. Just to have people looking at you like that, someone you’re compared to, it feels good.”
Gill-Caesar mentioned that the two of them had kept in touch this year and Wiggins offered him a bit of a preview on “how much different college is compared to high school.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.