Luis Montero (center)
At the last Elite Youth Basketball League event in Minneapolis, 100 games were spread out over the course of four days. This meant I had the good fortune of mapping out my time to make sure I saw every team play at least once.
Obviously, many players stood out and many of the superstars didn't disappoint. I also think I was fortunate to witness a coming out party for the best player you probably never heard of.
That man is Luis Montero, a 6-foot-7 combo guard playing for the New York Lightning. With elite size and top-notch intangibles, Montero ended up making the best impression on me during the Minneapolis Session, both on and off the court.
Moving from the Dominican Republic to Wilbraham, Mass., in June 2012, Montero found his new home at Wilbraham & Monson Academy, where he played high school ball and caught on with the Lightning on the EYBL circuit.
"I like it there a lot," he said. "I really like playing for the Lightning, too. I like the team. I like all the guys. They are like a second family to me."
A 2015 graduate – due to the move – Montero is older than most recruits in the class having already turned 18 years old. Contrary to what many believe, Montero sees his older age as an advantage for himself, as it will give him a little more time to further acclimate himself to American basketball and a level of talent he hasn't played against before.
"EYBL is just better. All of the players in the country are the best playing here. I’m used to being the best player back home," he said. "I enjoy matching up against the other team's best players."
On the second day of the session, I watched Montero utilize his maturity and skill to tear up the Texas Titans.
On display was a long and lengthy combo guard with some of the most impressive ball handling on the circuit. The Lightning were clicking on all cylinders against one of the most solid teams in the EYBL, and it was in large part due to Montero’s pacing and intensity.
It's been said before, and I'll say it again; numbers don't lie.
Playing all 32 minutes, Montero put together a complete performance, finishing with 17 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
Speaking to him after the game, all he wanted to talk about was his team's defense.
"It’s not easy to guard anyone," he said. "We need to play defense on everyone. Luckily our coaches focus on defense and we came out prepared."
Perhaps most impressive was the way he rebounded the basketball.
He uses great bounce and incredibly long arms to make up for the lack of bulk on his frame. When asked about battling for tough rebounds down low against a strong Titans frontline, he gave an answer that any coach would gush over.
"I’ve been trying to be a good rebounder mainly. We won today, because we’ve been focusing on rebounding," he said. "That starts the fastbreak, which we like to do. We have good communication on the floor."
"With his height, Montero is point-forward who can do it all. Very long and athletic, needs to put some weight on his frame," Strong said. "He is a kid to watch out for in July, as well as the Lightning as a team."
Currently only holding interest from Maryland, Strong sounded encouraged about Montero's future.
"I assume he should make the national radar after July is over,” Strong said.
Before departing for their bus, I asked Montero what he was going to focus on in preparation for the Peach Jam and the upcoming high school season.
Firm and decisively, Montero answered, assuring me of his unending talent and drive to get better.
"I am working out every day, getting better. That is all that is important to me."
If you follow him on twitter, it's easy to tell that the man isn't lying.