By Chad Newswander
Basketball is life. Perhaps the annotation that a sport controls and consumes the lives of people is outrageous. It could even be debated. However, Kentucky is a place where that controversy does not reside.
“Just growing up, basketball is everything there,” senior point guard Matt Montague said.
The Wildcats conceivably have the most storied basketball program in the nation.
And Montague, a Kentucky native, was raised in the midst of that basketball tradition.
“It is constantly being talked about. Every kid played it,” Montague said. “I was raised and grew up there and it did help.”
Six years ago Montague brought his game and tradition to the Provo community. Unfortunately, the Cougars went 1-25 that season.
Montague left town for the next two years and escaped playing for the worst team in the conference and maybe the nation.
He returned from England to a new program.
“We went on missions and were coming back and hoping things would be on the ups. The record was still pretty bad but was improving each year that Cleveland was here,” Montague said.
For the next three years, Montague was part of two National Invitational berths, an invitation to the NCAA tournament and a conference championship.
“Honestly, winning the conference tournament and going to the NCAA is a highlight,” Montague said.
This year, the quiet, soft-spoken Montague made plenty of noise by breaking two BYU records.
First, Montague passed Danny Ainge”s all-time BYU assist record against Utah. During his four years at BYU, Montague has 570 assists. Ainge had 539.
Second, he broke BYU”s most assists in one season. Previously, Nathan Call had the record with 204 assists. Ten years later, Montague has 217.
“I just love feeding the ball to a good shooter,” Montague said.
His passing tendencies however, didn”t stop him when he had the chance to hit a 3-pointer against Utah in the Marriott Center, bringing the Cougars within two points of taking the lead. He took that shot knowing he was 31 percent from beyond the arc.
“He is just a great player. I am so happy for him. It is his senior year, and he deserves it,” junior guard Travis Hansen said.
With all the records and highlights, Montague believes that something else is more important. He cherishes the associations that he has developed.
“The interaction with being around good people, good players and nice guys is what I think I will take from this,” Montague said.