On The Road: Montrose Christian

<b>ROCKVILLE, Md. –</b> Stu Vetter has won two national championships, coached 9 McDonald's All-Americans and has sent a player to every school in the ACC except for one. In short, he knows a thing or two about the game and this season's Montrose squad is more than willing to listen to him.

It's called Montrose Christian School but it's more like Montrose Christian College. He's been a high school coach his entire career – all 676 wins worth – but Stu Vetter's program isn't your average high school set up.

Vetter and his staff, led by top assistant and former player David Adkins, have crafted their program into one of the nation's elite and they've done it by taking a college-like approach to their day-to-day operations.

Practices at Montrose are crisp, timed out to the exact minute, competitive and spirited. Vetter has a whistle but he rarely needs it. His players seem adequately motivated and are self starters on the court and in the classroom.

The basketball program routinely kicks out well-adjusted players who are more ready to contribute early in their college careers because of the hoops education Montrose provides. Plus, you don't have to worry about his guys in the classroom either as the team GPA is 3.2 and study halls are mandatory.

Take for example Uche Echefu, the team's senior star. Echefu came to the United States from Nigeria two years ago. He has yet to return home to see his parents, brother and three sisters. Upon arriving at the school, the basketball phase of his education began.

From a hoops standpoint, Echefu (No. 34, Scout.com) is progressing nicely. He's improved his range, benches over 250 pounds and has developed into an explosive athlete even though he had surgery on his knee two years ago. As far as available big men go, he's near the top of list and his 3.4 GPA isn't bad either.

The forward has already visited Florida State and Michigan. He's not enamored or engrossed in the recruiting process even though Kentucky and Duke are showing him considerable attention. Basketball is something he loves and is good at, but whoever signs him this spring better understand that education will always be No. 1 on his list.

"I can't live with basketball forever," Echefu said. Someday after playing pro ball he'd like to return home and start his own company.

Echefu isn't the only guy on the roster from a different country. In fact, the school prides itself on being diverse and the basketball roster reflects that vision.

Six different countries are represented on Vetter's squad. This spring, the school will make history as senior shooting guard K.J. Matsui will become the first-ever Division I player from Japan. The smooth shooter is hearing from Canisius, Colgate and the bulk of the Ivy League.

"The Land of the Rising Sun" should quickly gets its second Division I player in the spring of 2006 when Taishi Ito is eligible to sign his letter of intent. The 6-foot junior point guard will have no problem assimilating to Division I ball and depending on what kind of year he has will receive mid-to-possible-high major looks.

One of the guys Vetter is most excited about coaching is Venezuelan Greivis Vasquez. The 6-foot-5 do-it-all guard will find himself playing anywhere from small forward to point guard this year. Meanwhile, 6-foot-9 Hungarian Attila Farkas is developing into a high-major prospect as well. Farkas is a deceptively good athlete who can also step out on the perimeter. Prior to the Class of 2005, Vetter helped 15 foreign players sign on to play college basketball.

This edition of Montrose basketball has just two seniors on the roster and in addition to the foreign flavor, Vetter mixed in a handful of promising young local talents. Adrian Bowie, whose father served as the equipment manager for Maryland basketball for 17 years, is a long defender and quick slasher who has worked hard on his outside game. Just a sophomore, Bowie has a chance to be an outstanding player. Combo forward Jourdan Morris, a junior, will get plenty of time as well.

USA Today pegged this bunch as the No. 9 team in the nation. They'll open their season Dec. 6 against Booker T. Washington.


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