High School Basketball

UK prospect Gill-Caesar patiently pondering early leap to college

Montaque Gill-Caesar's goal is to bring multiple skills to the court.
Montaque Gill-Caesar's goal is to bring multiple skills to the court.

PADUCAH — The contemplation continues for University of Kentucky recruit Montaque Gill-Caesar, who still hasn't made a decision on joining the Class of 2014 and playing college basketball next season.

The Huntington (W.Va.) Prep star traveled home to Vaughan, Ontario, over the semester break to spend the holidays with his mother. Naturally, the talk turned to his college recruitment and basketball future.

"My mom kind of asked me what I wanted to do," he said Thursday on the opening night of Mustang Madness at McCracken County High School. "She doesn't really know basketball too well. (We talked) about the pros and cons of doing it or not doing it. I kind of explained a lot of things to her."

Gill-Caesar — a 6-foot-6 small forward — is currently in the Class of 2015, but he has the necessary academic credits to graduate from high school after this season without taking any extra classes.

Several of the nation's top programs, including Kentucky, are hoping that's the decision he makes. Gill-Caesar is considered a top-25 player in the junior class by Scout.com, Rivals.com and ESPN. He would be the No. 22 overall prospect if he moved to the Class of 2014, according to Scout.com's rankings.

It's not the rankings Gill-Caesar is concerned about. It's how he feels about his own game that will decide what he does next season.

"It's just me personally saying, 'I'm ready.' It's on-the-court issues, really," he said. "Off the court — in school, I'm a good student. I know whatever school I go to, I'm going to stay focused. That's not really an issue for me. It's just my skill development — how I feel like I'm progressing over the season."

Gill-Caesar got off to a slow start in Thursday night's 68-66 victory over nationally ranked and previously undefeated Our Savior New American (N.Y.). He picked up two fouls in the first three-plus minutes and had only two points at halftime.

In the decisive fourth quarter, he came to life. He made several nice passes that led to Huntington Prep baskets down the stretch. He also outhustled opponents to loose balls, including two crucial putbacks in the game's final minutes. And he locked down on defense.

When his shot isn't falling, Gill-Caesar knows there are other ways he can be effective.

"I'm not trying to be a one-dimensional player, so I know that scoring is not everything," he said. "Even if it's making that one pass or that one rebound or that one defensive play — it's going to make a difference.

"If you want to be a great player, then you have to be able to do multiple things on the court."

College coaches continue to recognize his potential. Gill-Caesar listed Florida State, Memphis, Kansas, Michigan State, Alabama and West Virginia as the schools that are after him the hardest. He said he trades text messages with UK assistant Orlando Antigua on a fairly regular basis. "We're cool. He's a cool guy, so I like to just chat," he added.

Antigua has seen Gill-Caesar play twice this season, and UK Coach John Calipari watched him at last month's Marshall County Hoop Fest. There will be a UK scholarship offer waiting for him if he decides to join the Class of 2014.

Huntington Prep Coach Rob Fulford told the Herald-Leader earlier in the season that he thinks Gill-Caesar is ready to make the jump to college basketball.

The final decision, Gill-Caesar said, will be made with his mother. As of now, feelings seem to indicate that a move to the Class of 2014 is the most likely result.

"She feels that I'm ready, but of course she's going to feel that I'm ready," Gill-Caesar said. "It's just, like, how I feel, you know?"

How does he feel?

"I feel that I'm ready," he said, "but it's still up in the air."

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