Next Cats notes: Gill-Caesar taking college decision down to the wire

broberts@herald-leader.comJuly 19, 2014 


NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Montaque Gill-Caesar knows he's going to have to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.

The Huntington (W.Va.) Prep standout has been thinking about reclassifying to 2014 for nearly a year, and that choice would mean he'd be playing college basketball this coming season.

If that's what he wants to do, he'll need to pick a school and enroll in the near future. He's been getting questions about it for months, but he claims he's no closer to a decision.

"I'm not trying to focus on it right now," Gill-Caesar told the Herald-Leader. "I've just pushed it aside and focused on what's in the present."

The 6-foot-5 small forward from Toronto played his final AAU game with the CIA Bounce program Saturday at the Peach Jam. The next step is to return home to Canada and talk over his future with his family.

The most popular prediction is that Gill-Caesar will end up at Missouri for the 2014-15 season, and there's a clear reason why.

New Tigers coach Kim Anderson recently hired former Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford to round out his team of assistants. Fulford was the man who brought Gill-Caesar to West Virginia and coached him the past two years.

Three weeks ago, he hosted his former player in Columbia for an official visit.

"It was cool," Gill-Caesar said. "I liked the fan base; it's a basketball town. I liked the new coach, Kim Anderson. He's from Mizzou so the town really respects him.

"He seems very level-headed. He's very calm. He looks like he trusts his players."

Gill-Caesar also used the word "trust" several times to describe his relationship with Fulford, both on and off the court. The Missouri assistant arrived at Peach Jam on Friday night, and he made sure to be at Gill-Caesar's game during that session.

Anderson was front and center for his entire contest Friday morning.

Kentucky — a school that has been recruiting him for nearly two years — is apparently no longer in the picture. He said he hasn't heard from anyone on the Wildcats' staff in a while, so even if he stays in the class of 2015 it seems unlikely he'll end up in Lexington.

Fulford told him throughout the season that he was ready for college.

Gill-Caesar turned 18 in January and has long been considered a top-50 recruit.

But he openly acknowledges — as do those around him — that he's been struggling with a decision. When asked if it would be made "in the next month or so," he replied: "Possibly."

When it was pointed out that college enrollment dates meant time was getting near for the decision, whether he liked it or not, Gill-Caesar showed a little grin.

"Yeah, I guess I'm going to have to," he said.

Travelers eliminated

The Kentucky Travelers defeated Chicago-based Mac Irvin Fire, 78-70, on Saturday morning, but it wasn't enough to advance to the Peach Jam quarterfinals.

Knott Central star Camron Justice led five Travelers in double figures with 18 points. The Vanderbilt commitment was 4-for-6 from three point range and averaged 17.4 points per game for the week.

The Travelers finished 3-2 in pool play but were left out of the Peach Jam quarterfinals on a four-team tiebreaker for two spots. Their only losses came on a last-second three-pointer to Houston Hoops and a 70-60 defeat to the Oakland Soldiers, a team that includes five-star seniors Ivan Rabb and Stephen Zimmerman.

Manual's Dwayne Sutton — a 6-5 forward — averaged 10.8 rebounds for the week. Perry Central's Braxton Beverly averaged 6.6 assists and just 1.6 turnovers over the five games.

Lexington Christian Academy's Matt Rose scored 14 points in Saturday's victory.

The summer is not finished for the Travelers, who will play in this week's AAU Super Showcase in Louisville.

No limits

As soon as Stephen Zimmerman announced earlier this year that he was switching his AAU allegiance to the Oakland Soldiers, the warning bells went off.

The Soldiers' program is well known for producing some of Arizona's best players in recent years, so college coaches not named Sean Miller were left to wonder if they still had a chance.

That list includes John Calipari, Rick Pitino and Roy Williams, who have all been actively recruiting the top-10 prospect for a while now.

Zimmerman said fans of UK, Louisville, UNC and the others on his list have nothing to worry about. His alliance with the Soldiers will have no bearing on college.

"Me and my parents know what's going on," Zimmerman said, "and Arizona has always been on my list whether I was a Soldier or not."

Star struck

West Coast star Ivan Rabb has been in the basketball spotlight his entire high school career, ranked as a five-star recruit from an early age.

He was asked this week if he's ever had any celebrity contact that took him off guard.

The only such instance he could recall happened last summer, and it wasn't a call from Calipari or Mike Krzyzewski or any of the other famous coaches who are recruiting him.

"I remember when John Wall followed me (on Twitter)," Rabb said. "It popped up on my screen and I was like, 'That's not really him.' Sometimes they have those parody accounts, so I didn't pay any attention to it.

"Then I opened my iPad and it was actually him. I was really excited about that."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog:

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