Wildcats to debut Malik Montoya

Malik Montoya dribbles during CWU's first home game of the season.

Malik Montoya dribbles during CWU's first home game of the season.

Jack Lambert

Jack Lambert

Malik Montoya dribbles during CWU's first home game of the season.

Anna Eyears, Staff Reporter

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Jack Lambert
Malik Montoya dribbles during CWU’s first home game of the season.

Like many young athletes, CWU basketball player Malik Montoya sparked an interest in basketball during his formative years. The junior guard began learning the ropes at just two years old. He recalls watching basketball at home on his family TV as a child.

“My dad is a really good basketball player and my whole family is big on basketball, so it was only right for me to play,” Montoya said. “I would watch the NBA stars and think ‘hey, that’s something I could pursue.’”

Montoya said his competitive start in basketball shaped him into the player he is today.

“The team I joined didn’t have my age group, so I had to play up two ages,” Montoya said. “It made me tougher and it made me want to play harder. I definitely think it made me better on the court.”

Montoya, who is double majoring in communications and public relations, transferred to CWU from Seattle University after some changes occurred to the staffing at his former university.  

“I decided to leave and I knew it was best for me,” Montoya said. “I just wanted to go somewhere where I knew I could be better as a person and be better for my basketball career as well.”

Head coach Greg Sparling said Montoya is a valuable addition to the team here at CWU.

“Malik transferred out of Seattle University and we got wind of it,” Sparling said. “He came over, played well, and that’s how we got him on the team. I think he’s going to do really well.”

Sparling said it was important that Montoya was given the freedom to experiment and come out of his shell on the court.

“His confidence was really shaken at Seattle University. Just watching the minimal clips we have on him, it seems like he wasn’t really doing what he normally does,” Sparling said. “A guy like that probably didn’t get as much playing time as he wanted over there, but now coming here I think he’s really going to start shining.”

Upon watching clips of Montoya’s game, Sparling said it was clear his number one strength was defense.

“He’s a really great on-ball defender, he’s getting better with his jump shots and he’s doing a really good job for us on penetration. It’s going to be fun watching the growth of this team over the next few days, weeks and months,” Sparling said. “We’re getting better daily and I would encourage people to come out and support us.”

For many players, living under the same roof and being on the same team together can prove too much, but for Montoya’s close friend and teammate, Jawan Stepney, the proximity has only brought them closer. The two met in the third grade and have been playing on teams for and against each other ever since.

“We definitely have a chemistry on and off the court,” Stepney said. “Knowing each other for so long has definitely given us more to talk about when we’re home. We’re always discussing the team and what we need to do.”

Stepney told of his friend’s goofy personality and go-getter spirit.

“He’s always looking to have fun… but he’s also pretty serious about getting business done,” Stepney said. “When he wants to get things done, he puts his mind to it and gets through it. We have a lot of guys that talk, but he’s one of the guys that say what they’re going to do and then go out and do it.”

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Wildcats to debut Malik Montoya