Austin Montgomery only had 30 minutes each day to exercise, but he made the most of it.
Whether it was jump-roping, running or push-ups, Montgomery did his best to keep his body in playing condition while serving a two-year Mormon mission trip to San Antonio, Texas, following his four-year career as a basketball standout for Lakeview Academy.
Today, Montgomery is just months into his freshman year at the University of Utah, where he’s provided backup and a strong contribution to the practice team for the No. 24 Utes (10-2), who have already picked up quality wins over Duke, Texas Tech and Brigham Young University.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Montgomery. “We get to play against a bunch of good teams, and every day in practice, I get to play against some future pros. It’s great to be around the guys, around the court.”
Montgomery is adjusting to college life after leaving Gainesville in the summer of 2013 to pursue a mission trip with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Typically, LDS missionaries rise very early in the morning to pray, exercise and prepare for the day before embarking on a full day of proselytizing, meeting with members of the local community and assisting with charities or food kitchens.
Montgomery stayed in a modest apartment while traveling around San Antonio, Austin and parts of the border, where he got to speak with native Spanish-speakers about his LDS faith.
The Utah coaches have seen several LDS missionaries like Montgomery come and go over the years, according to the freshman. It was hard for Montgomery to step away from basketball, but he said he learned a lot about himself by serving others in Texas.
Montgomery said he touched a basketball “once a week, if I was lucky.”
During his Lakeview career, Montgomery finished with a 4.0 GPA and earned the Presidential Scholarship to Utah, where he was accepted into the Honors University. He averaged 21 points and nine rebounds a game with the Lions.
“I knew what I was doing,” he said. “Whenever you play a high level of sports, you miss it, but it was a matter of priorities.”
Following his two years of service, Austin had lost around 15 pounds and was “pretty weak,” compared to his Lakeview Academy days. Starting a rigorous schedule of gym workouts, including lifting, bench presses, pull ups and push-ups back on campus at Utah, Montgomery was able to gain the weight back in muscle.
As of Dec. 21, Montgomery featured in five games, playing a total of 16 minutes. He’s made all four of his attempted field goals.
The freshman said he’ll treasure his time in Texas, where he learned to be self-sufficient and had the opportunity to help others.
“I got a ton out of it,” said Montgomery. “Straight out of high school, living on your own, not having much connection with your family. You get better at getting along with people. You learn a lot about them and yourself.”