When hoop fans hear the words “basketball prodigy,” many instantly frown or cringe. Some will think of the likes of either Kwame Brown or O.J. Mayo and shake their heads. Every once in a while though, a story comes along of a “basketball prodigy” that can make one smile. That is the story of fourth-grader Jordan Montgomery.
We have posted some of Jordan’s YouTube videos in the past, and there’s no doubt that Jordan is special. He already handles the ball as well as any prototypical varsity point guard, and he can hit shots from all over the floor off the dribble. He doesn’t even play against kids his own age anymore, because it isn’t even fair.
“We discovered his ability when he was three years old,” says Jordan’s father, Craig Montgomery. “At the time we were working real hard with my older son, Kyle, who was 13 at the time. We would go on YouTube and try different dribbling drills. Jordan would watch and try the drills and we noticed how fast he could pick things up. He was doing things he shouldn’t have been able to do at that age. And then, things just went crazy from there.”
Mr. Montgomery was right about things going crazy. Jordan plays primarily against 12 and 13 year olds on his travel and AAU teams. He has been featured on middleschoolelite.com, LeBron James‘ website and has gotten to work with former New Orleans Hornet’s trainer Dave Miller.
None of this, however, would have been possible without the dedication and care of his older brother. Kyle and Jordan spend countless hours watching NBA players like Derrick Rose and Chris Paul, learning the moves from the professionals and having Jordan work on them in the backyard.
“I love it,” says Kyle. “I get a great joy out of working with Jordan. His mind is on a whole other level. Sometimes his friends try to work out with us but it’s not the same. Working with him is like working with a high school or college kid. He picks up on things so quickly.”
Focus is something that most do not associate with elementary school kids. Jordan possesses a rare ability to manage time. Every day, he will come home from school and work on his shooting and dribbling. After that, he will go inside to work on his homework (Jordan is apparently a great student along with being a great basketball player). At night, he will work primarily on his ball handling skills.
“Sometimes it gets hard to manage time, but it’s easier when I’m listening to music,” says Jordan.
“He has a lot of natural ability, yet he loves to work hard and practice,” says Mr. Montgomery. “You know some kids are gifted but don’t want to work hard. He always competes at everything he does and that’s what’s scary about it.”
This gifted ability may sound unbelievable, but amazingly, Jordan hasn’t let it go to his head.
“He’s just a normal kid,” says Mr. Montgomery. “Jordan is the kind of kid that I’ll say, ‘Hey, you are on LeBron’s website,’ and he’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s cool,’ and then he’ll ask to go ride his bike outside.”
Throughout this entire process, which has gone on for seven years, Jordan has managed to live just like any other elementary school kid. He likes to play outside; especially if it involves dirt bike riding. He is even quite fond of poetry.
“Sometimes I’ll read poems that will get me fired up,” says Jordan. “I like Shakespeare poems and basketball poems that talk about being powerful.”
“We are really balanced people,” says Kyle. “School comes first and basketball comes second. We don’t worry about the kind of kid that he is because we know he has a great foundation.”
This balance is what separates Jordan from other child prodigies. So many of them have their eyes set on the future, but Jordan is caught in the moment. He knows that his jump shot still needs a little tweaking.
“I need to work on my shooting a little bit more,” says Jordan. “I plan on shooting 100 shots from each spot on the floor every day.”
Some might question whether what the Montgomery family is doing is right or not. Too much exposure has lead to the downfall of many child prodigies in life, not only in basketball.
“I have mixed feelings about the exposure,” says Mr. Montgomery. “With my older son (Kyle), I think he was a great player but we didn’t do any AAU teams or exposure things. I think he really got overlooked and didn’t get a chance to experience that. He’s not playing now, although he may try to walk on at San Diego State. I feel like I let him down as a dad in the sense that you need to give him some exposure.
“With Jordan, we put a video on YouTube of him when he was six years old. He was dribbling a basketball and it got almost half a million views. It was fun, but you are always second-guessing yourself hoping the exposure is good. You feel like you don’t want to make him a target. I hope we are doing the right thing.”
“I hope he just keeps pushing himself and stays humble,” says Kyle. “We try to keep him at a pace now where he can continually play two or three grades up, so that when he gets to sixth or seventh grade, he will be able to play at the varsity level. We are just trying to keep him ahead of the game.”
With two parents and one brother who care, Jordan is one lucky kid. Few kids are fortunate enough to have such great support, which might be the reason why he has such a bright future. Oh, and the fact that he could be as tall as his brother Kyle, who is 6-6, considering Kyle was Jordan’s height (4-10) at the same age.
If Jordan keeps it up at this pace, the rest of the players in the class of 2019 better watch out.
Here’s a recent video of Jordan dominating against 13 year olds:
Follow Lucas on Twitter at @LucasTHENBAMan.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.