Montaya Dew dropped out of high school to begin her college basketball career in Arizona

There seems to be a lot to give up. Montaya Dew Ranked No. 8 in the Class of 2023 according to ESPN. The highly regarded player is bound to earn invitations to the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic. She was likely to get a lot of articles written about her in her senior year of high school. Maybe she’ll help her high school team win its 14th state title.

The next Arizona freshman didn’t care. She was ready to move on in life, and that meant letting go of all that plus things like high school prom, the traditional senior season, and the other trappings of high school senior year.

“I didn’t think about it,” Dio said of the high school rite of passage. “For me, it wasn’t really that hard. I’m very quiet and shy, so I didn’t really think about those things when I was in high school. So, it wasn’t really hard to let go.”

Obviously this is true. Dew speaks softly. She is very polite, and thanks those who care about her for taking the time. It is not a self-promoter. She has an easy smile as she peeks out from under her hair.

By all indications, this is her style on the court, too. She is about her team, not herself. when ESPN did an article on the best players in the Class of 2023 And what they bring, it wasn’t a guard who was chosen as the best facilitator and passer-by in the class. Instead, the 6-foot-2 forward was from Centennial High in Las Vegas.

“Dynamic point guards and long-range shooting are easy to fall into, but in the new era of spacing and small-ball, more hybrid players are emerging as facilitators,” Shane Laughlin wrote. Early on, Dew’s passing mentality was apparent, then it almost became a hindrance when she wasn’t the aggressiveness of scorers. Her 6-foot-2 size allows her to get off spherical screens and see the entire floor as a forward-oriented type, causing a mismatch of opposing personnel. And defensive runs.She reads defenses well and knows which option to attack.Moreover, she has modified her technique, and is not afraid to shoot and make plays herself.Good big passes are very valuable at the next level, as they allow quick guards to make plays without the ball in their hands and provide much greater distances for the defenders to cover it up.”

Dio said it comes naturally to her. You enjoy everyone’s feeling of happiness.

“My personality is nice to everyone,” Dio said. “Everyone is trying to fit in, and I’m just trying to help everyone out on the field. So, I don’t get selfish and take it a lot of times. I want to help everyone else out on the field and fill their stat line.”

Her decision to arrive early on campus aligns with the way she handled her recruitment. She was the first of 2023 to commit to delivering her word for the Arizona head coach Adia Barnes. She committed relatively early in the process, saying she wanted the recruitment to end.

“In the recruitment process, it was very stressful for me just knowing that I don’t talk much and there are a lot of schools that want to talk all the time,” Dew said in January. And then, Adia, just talking to her, I feel like I can talk to her about anything. She’s so trustworthy and down-to-earth — like, Is that true down to earth. I feel like she and I will have a really good bond when I go there.”

Finishing high school and moving was something I planned for early on, too. She began preparing during her freshman year, taking summer classes so she could wrap things up and enroll early.

“I was ready to finish high school,” Dio said. “But, yeah, I guess it was just wanting to be in college and ready to start my next chapter in life.”

Part of starting the next semester includes getting ready. She felt the extra semester on campus would help her once she hit the field for her freshman season.

“I decided to do it just because I knew I would be able to practice and get ahead, so I would be ready for my next season,” Dew said. “I can actually play and be ready to not come in and kind of learn everything and just get into the process. I’ll be really ready.”

Dio and her family had trade-offs outside of basketball. She said she was sure her mother was sad to see her go. It helps that she’s a little older. Even though she is the baby of her family, she turned 19 on January 10, 2023.

Her older brother and sister brought her to Tucson at the end of December, where she quickly settled into a student housing complex with three other UA students.

“We had to pack up all of my rooms in a few days,” said Dio. “My brother and sister drove me down and then we all settled in. It was great, and my roommate has now moved in, so it’s been fun.”

There were trade-offs in court, too. Dio has not played organized basketball since last summer. She has been working with a trainer since that time. When you finally get into a game next November, it will have been over a year since you last played for a team in an important game.

“It was hard just trying to get back into team-like situations and remember the plays and learn the plays now,” Dew said. “I just need a playbook now, and that will be the last thing. I will understand everything from there and it will be better.”

Barnes is pleased with how quickly Dio picks things up.

“It’s just thrown into the fire, like learning some of the plays we’re reviewing, and it picks things up really quickly,” Barnes said. “So, she’s a smart player. It’s a Centennial thing. Karen does a great job her players are ready for. They always have a high basketball IQ. I don’t know if it’s because she learns the game so young, but she’s always strong. They’re So, I really like getting Centennial players.

“Karen” is the legendary Centennial coach Karen Weitz, who has coached the girls’ team for years, winning 13 state titles, added the boys’ team to her responsibilities last May. While some players find it difficult to adjust to the complexity and number of plays at the college level, Dew said she was well prepared by Weitz.

“My senior year with Centennial, we had a lot of plays, and my coach was a bit stricter at the time, so it was easier to adjust to Coach Adia’s playing style,” Dew said. “So, I think my coach from high school prepared me for college.”

Weitz prepared a lot of Division I basketball players, including the former Wildcat favorite Sam Thomas. Weitz said she believes high school coaches can train harder than college coaches can, which has helped her prepare her players for the next level. Barnes agrees, saying that both high school coaches and male college coaches can generally coach harder than female college coaches.

“It is what it is,” Barnes said.

Her players notice Weitz’s behavior.

“Its power explodes on you,” Dio said. “And you just have to have that mindset of being strong and being ready for the next chapter.”

Coming out of a highly successful program that requires accountability is something players can count on once they get to the next chapter.

“Sam Thomas was an underrated person,” Barnes said. “I think Montaya is going to be a bigger version of that. But I think maybe she’s ahead of Sam in some places or in some areas of her game, and she’s a little bit bigger. But the guys from there work really well and they fit into our system because they [Weitz] He plays really tough defense. She trains them hard. And so it’s adaptable. They are able to accept training, which not many players accept. They always know the game and don’t try to cut corners because they’ve stayed true to standards for years of high school basketball. So, I’d love to get players out of it… Thank you, Karen, for giving us some good players that influence our program.”

Dio will not appear on the field this season, but she does travel with the team. Their first road trip was to the Bay Area when the Wildcats split their games against California and Stanford.

“That was fun,” Dio said. “Just being able to adapt and it was a really good thing.”

But it’s not just about having fun and getting ready for the next season. Dew gives Arizona something it needs practically by just being there.

“At the moment we don’t have experienced players, because everyone is gone,” Barnes said last week. “So just to get an extra body. I feel like every week we kind of have people out. Shayna [Pellington] I had the flu. Someone is sick today. So, I feel like we had multiple players, and so it was difficult to have 10 players to play.”

Next fall, it will be more than just helping her teammates get ready for matches. Dio is the highest-ranked player in the top class that Arizona has ever signed. She would already be one step ahead when the other prestigious class members arrived. Only the three can help them as they prepare to take the Wildcats into the future.

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