St. John's, Arizona, USC, SMU Among Those Recruiting JUCO Forward Luis Montero | Zagsblog
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Tuesday / June 6.
  • St. John’s, Arizona, USC, SMU Among Those Recruiting JUCO Forward Luis Montero

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    MonteroBy ZACH SMART

    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    A late growth spurt and a new, more prominent role involving an uptick in ball handling and a score-first mentality has shaped Westchester Community College’s Luis Montero into one of the nation’s fastest-rising recruits.

    The ceiling on Montero, a transcendent 6-foot-9 guard/forward, is still unknown. The St. John’s target has played only half a season of JUCO ball, attracting a full menu of Division-I interest from across the country.

    After practicing with the Dominican national team this summer, the hounding intensified.

    Four days after that initial practice week, Vikes head coach Tyrone Mushatt fielded a call from SMU head coach Larry Brown.

    Brown, the former Indiana Pacers boss who wore out his welcome during a testy and controversy-stained one-year stay with the New York Knicks, has helped resuscitate a left-for-dead program in Dallas.

    USC, SMU, St. John’s, South Florida and Arizona are all in persistent pursuit of Montero, who will devise a campus visit schedule as early as next week.

    Right now it’s an open field. Montero’s high-major appeal is most notably linked to a diversified folder of tools.

    He’s a threat to dial in from beyond the arc.

    He can dice defenders off the dribble.

    He can score consistently via self-creation, with a knack for splitting into the driving lanes and finishing at/above the rim. He’s become more adept as a passer and creator.

    Mushatt said it would be a disservice not to have the ball in his incoming go-to-guy’s hands as much as possible.

    And what to say of Montero’s considerable wingspan, those Pippen-long arms that seem as long as stickball bats?

    “He’s a better defender than people think,” said Mushatt, who listed SJU as a potential suitor.

    “(St. John’s) is in the gym here every chance they get,” explained Mushatt.

    While his identity is that of an electric offensive threat with a janitor’s supply of hard-to-guard tools, Montero still has just 16 JUCO games under his belt. This season will gauge his leadership and determine if he can thrive while shouldering a bulk of the offensive load.

    He averaged 15.6 points, 5.9 boards, and 3.0 assists in 16 games as a freshman, erupting for 31 points during a wire-to-wire 113-86 bludgeoning of Rockland Community College.

    He scored 20 points, shooting the rock at an 8-for-13 clip, during a win over Harcum College. Montero dropped 19 points on 7-for-11 FG during the Vikes’ final game of the regular season, an 82-70 win over Baltimore City Community College.

    That marquee win allowed the JUCO landscape to feel the Keith Thomas-Gio Mclean-Montero triumvirate, which burned down its own pathway to the NJCAA tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.

    Bordered by the 6-foot-8, 23-year-old Thomas (15.3 points, NJCAA-best 15.7 boards, 65.4 percent FG) and 24-year-old Giovanni McLean (16.3 points, 7.3 assists, 5.0 boards), Montero’s late arrival solidified this troika.

    “He brought that extra stuff,” Mushatt explained. “We were good. He made us great.”

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    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.