The last few months have offered quite a learning experience for Montaque Gill-Caesar.
The Toronto native arrived at Huntington Prep before the start of the school year as a somewhat unknown recruit. As a sophomore on a team predominantly made up of seniors, Gill-Caesar’s first practice assignment was to match up with Andrew Wiggins.
Gill-Caesar — known to his coaches and teammates as “Teki” — held his own against the No. 1-ranked player in high school basketball. He became an immediate starter for Huntington Prep, which wrapped up the regular season over the weekend with a 30-3 record and a top-10 national ranking.
“I’ve learned a lot, especially playing with these guys,” Gill-Caesar told the Herald-Leader last week. “I’ve expanded my game a little bit more and I’m able to do different things. I’ve played on the perimeter a little bit more, because back in Canada I played in the post a lot.”
The 6-foot-5 Gill-Caesar still had to play inside more than Huntington Prep Coach Rob Fulford would have liked. Because of a lack of depth in the post, Gill-Caesar was technically the team’s starting power forward.
Fulford said Gill-Caesar should be able to play more on the wing during the upcoming AAU season, when he’ll again compete for Toronto-based CIA Bounce.
“He’s still young, and I think people want to see his development during the AAU season,” Fulford said. “We haven’t asked him to do a lot, because he hasn’t been ready to do a lot. … We’ve kind of let him sort of grow a little bit just being a catch-and-shoot guy. He’s done it very well, and we’ve kind of got him playing out of position at the 4.
“But it’ll help him, because he’s had to guard posts, he’s had to guard wings, he’s had to rebound.”
Fulford sees Gill-Caesar as an undersized 3 at the college level. “I’m not sure he can be a 2 unless his handle really, really develops,” he said. “I don’t think he’s going to grow anymore.”
Plenty of schools have already inquired, and Gill-Caesar has two full years of high school left.
Ohio State, Baylor, West Virginia and Central Florida have all offered scholarships. Indiana has expressed interest, as has Kentucky.
Gill-Caesar has taken only two unofficial visits so far: one to UK and one to West Virginia. He said he doesn’t expect to start thinking seriously about his recruitment until the beginning of his junior year.
Still, he said, there’s plenty to like about Kentucky.
“Their tradition of winning. Every year they have top-notch players and every year they’re in the Top 10,” he said. “Going there — or even being seen as a recruit by them — is something special.”
For the moment, Gill-Caesar is concentrating on his high school career. Huntington Prep could play in next month’s National High School Invitational, a made-for-ESPN tournament featuring eight of the country’s best teams.
After his AAU season, Gill-Caesar will be back in Huntington with almost a whole new set of teammates. He and sophomore point guard Nevell Provo are the only contributing underclassmen on a team that includes five seniors who will play college ball at the high-major level next season.
Huntington Prep will probably bring in several highly touted prospects to replace those departing players.
“Since I’ve seen how the season was this year, I’ll be able to show the new guys who come in how we do things,” Gill-Caesar said. “I’ll be able to lead by example.”
He’s currently ranked the No. 30 overall player in the class of 2015 by Scout.com and has proven to be a solid defender and outside shooter in his first season at Huntington Prep.
Fulford Gill-Caesar, although fundamentally sound, needs to work on his ball-handling and all-around wing skills, but he has plenty of time to develop.
“He’s going to be a solid high-major kid,” he said. “I think ranking kids when they’re a freshman or sophomore is sometimes a crap shoot. He’s got some developing to do — from a guard standpoint — or he’s going to get passed up. But he knows that, and he’ll work on his game.”