Former Lufkin standout JJ Montgomery leading high school team to playoffs

From Lugkin to the pros and back to high school basketball - JJ Montgomery has seen it all

SOMERVILLE, Texas (KBTX) - It’s not everyday that a former pro athlete winds up coaching high school ball.

Jeremy Montgomery was trying out for NBA teams at one point but is now coaching in Somerville as the Lady Yeguas prepare for the playoffs under their 2nd year head coach.

Montgomery’s journey began in Lufkin where he was the high school’s all-time leading scorer and then Angelina College where the two-time All-American led the nation in scoring.

The East Texas native later played professionally in Europe and after retiring has found himself coaching high school girls’ basketball in Somerville.

“The girls knew what they were getting,” Montgomery said. “They were very excited to get me as a head coach. They knew I knew what I was doing and knew what I was talking about. They also knew I was a very disciplinary coach that I was a hard coach, but that didn’t scare them off.”

“It’s challenging and tough having him as a coach,” Ramaya Carter said. “You just have to learn to toughen up when he gets on you. Don’t cry just know that he’s trying to help you. You can’t take it serious. You can’t take it out on him. You can’t get mad at him because he knows what he’s talking about. He’s just trying to help you.””

Montgomery’s wife, Dee Ellis is also his assistant coach.

“I know what he needs,” Ellis said. “I know what he doesn’t like, so it goes hand in hand. I’m perfect for him.”

And Ellis says the toughness Montgomery brings to the Lady Yeguas is something he’s picked up from playing in countries like Poland and Finland.

“Playing overseas has helped his coaching style because he was able to play under so many different coaches,” Ellis said. “For example, coach Urlep was his toughest coach, but that’s the one he learned so much more from than anybody else. He has added that to the girls’ routines, what he’s learned, the drills, the training, the hard work, everything.”

“I learned a lot,” Montgomery said. “I learned a lot about defense. I learned a lot about offense. So I definitely used a lot of the things that I learned over there and put into the program here. So far we’ve had a lot of success running the system that I wanted to run.”

Montgomery says he’s doing what he loves on the sidelines in Somerville and hopes it can last a little while in the playoffs.

“I want this to be a special year,” Montgomery said. “Whether we win state or not or how far we go, I want them to always look back at this year and say, ‘I had a great year back in 2020-2021 playing for the Lady Yeguas.’”

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