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Boys Athlete of the Week: Johnson's Montrell McKenzie

POSTED: January 21, 2013 10:01 p.m.

Johnson boys basketball coach Jeff Steele likes the controlled aggression that his senior center Montrell McKenzie brings to the floor. McKenzie blocks shots with his 6-foot-7 frame and long arms. He also deflects the ball and grabs rebounds with his big body inside for the Knights (16-4, 4-0 Region 8-AAAA).

“His scoring is just the icing on the cake,” Steele said.

In both games last week, McKenzie was consistent in all phases. In a win against Lumpkin County, he put up 21 points with 24 rebounds. Three nights later, it was a 20-point, 15-rebound night for McKenzie in a win against Lanier.

For his efforts, McKenzie is The Times Boys Athlete of the Week.

McKenzie currently leads the team with 16 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks a night. He’s also deflected 26 shots on the season.

“He’s been active and aggressive for us,” Steele said.

McKenzie also puts an emphasis on his production grabbing boards and changing the direction of shots for Johnson, which faces Eastside (12-5, 4-0) for first place in 8-AAAA on Friday in Oakwood.

“The points come with our offense,” McKenzie said.

The Knights’ coach says McKenzie played a big role in their finish down the stretch against Lanier. Once McKenzie got his third foul in the first half, Steele opted to go to a zone defense for the third quarter.

After McKenzie went the entire quarter without drawing another foul, he went back to the Knights’ typical man-to-man. McKenzie was instrumental in helping the Knights close the game on a 14-0 scoring run.

“Montrell is the key to our team,” Steele said. “But we have five starters that all have to be guarded.”

Another aspect about McKenzie’s game that pleases his coach is that his big man inside is playing with a sense of urgency as his senior season starts to wind down. McKenzie says he wants to max out the team’s potential to make a deep playoff run.

Steele says that on Monday, he saw McKenzie really step out as the team ran sprints up and down the court in practice. Johnson’s coach says that McKenzie won out of everyone on the team “two or three times.”

“I can tell Montrell wants to get the most of his senior season,” Steele added.

Steele says the two things that McKenzie still needs to work on are hitting the mid-range jump shots and free throws more consistently.

Due to some academic setbacks, McKenzie plans to play in junior college after graduation. He’s received interest from some of the better two-year schools in the country for men’s basketball, including Barton College, in Kansas, and Florida Gulf Coast College in Panama City, Fla. McKenzie says that starting at the junior college level could prove helpful as he looks to eventually make the jump to a Division-I university.

“I think the sky’s the limit for Montrell,” Steele said.

The Knights are in a prime position to make it an interesting postseason. At 4-0 in region play, Johnson has only four games left on the region schedule to determine region tournament positioning, along with Saturday’s rivalry game at home against West Hall in a nonregion meeting.

Steele says his entire program has bought into its motto, “Stay hungry, stay humble” all season, avoiding any talk or hype that leaks in from outside the program.

Johnson will host the Region 8-AAAA tournament starting Feb. 12 in Oakwood.


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