Late Addition Joins Bears '08 Hoops Class

Late Addition Joins Bears '08 Hoops Class

The Mike Montgomery recruiting era got underway at Cal today as the Bears obtained a commitment from Findlay Prep (NV) guard Jorge Gutierrez for 2008.

The 6-3/200 Gutierrez played with a star-packed lineup for Findlay Prep in '07-'08, leading his squad to the Prep School championship game before falling in a tight battle, losing by 2 points to national champion Hargrave Military (VA) in the Prep School national championship in New York.

Gutierrez will join DeAndre Liggins (Kentucky), Deividas Dulkys (Florida State), Brice Massamba (UNLV), Curtis Dennis (New Mexico) and Jacques Streeter (Fullerton State) at the D1 level in 2008 –an incredible accomplishment for any prep program.

The opportunity to play at the high D1 level was one that required patience for the talented guard but his patience ultimately paid off as Montgomery and the Cal staff snapped him up after Oregon guard Garrett Sim was released from his scholarship after the Bears made their coaching change after the departure of Ben Braun last month.

"Coach Montgomery's a class guy, said Findlay Prep head coach Mike Peck. "I think he'll do a great job and Cal and hopefully Jorge can help him win a lot to games there.

Jorge had generated a certain level of interest from a number of schools throughout the year but nobody got super-aggressive because they were unsure about him and his situation. We kept telling him to not worry about his recruitment and with all the coaching changes going on, there'd be some movement late that would create some opportunities for him."

Coming into the process of recruiting a prospect late in the recruiting season accelerates the learning curve for most staffs and the situation with Cal and Gutierrez was no different, with the Bears essentially coming into the picture for Gutierrez mainly in the last few weeks.

"It was one of those things where Coach Montgomery had heard from a lot of different people that he trusted and had known for a while the same things about Jorge, said Peck. "He then touched base with us a couple weekends ago at the Las Vegas event and let us know about Cal's interest in Jorge. Then he came by last week to see Jorge and had him out for a visit and the recruiting process moved along pretty quickly. It turned out to be a good match so it's a done deal.

"They saw some game film against Hargrave and two previous games against Notre Dame (MA) and Harmony Prep (Cincinnati) and Coach Gottlieb was familiar with Jorge and had seen him play, too. That combined with meeting Jorge and seeing him play some pickup and all the little things he could do effectively was enough to sell them."

With a lack of depth at point guard at Cal as well as the departure of Sim, the Bears were in the market for a quality point guard. What they ended up with was a heady player with a lot of versatility that spent plenty of time at the point, but was also no stranger around the rest of the court. Despite playing with a wealth of talented players, Gutierrez averaged 13.2 points and 6 rebounds for the Pilots on the year, joining an amazing six other Findlay players averaging double-digits last season.

"Jorge actually played 1-4 for us this year," said Peck. "We were very fortunate this year. We had several guys that could play multiple positions but he's the one who played the most positions for us.

"If you asked me which spot are you more comfortable with him playing, I'd say he plays every one of them very well. He's got such a great feel for the game. And on top of it, what makes him such an effective point guard is his ball skill-set. He's got great hands and has a real good feel for when to give the ball up, spacing, cutting and movement –he just understands all of that stuff and has a real good basketball IQ. Everywhere he's been he's won championships. When he was in Mexico, he won a championship down there. When he was at Lincoln High School in Denver, they won a state championship there. And unfortunately we came up 2 points short of winning the Prep School championship this year.

"But I know this: Wherever he goes, he's going to help someone win a lot of games," concluded Peck.

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