Back when Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. initially announced he would explore his options, there were mixed reports on Kentucky’s potential involvement. While multiple outlets, including KSR, reported that the UK coaching staff had been in contact with and visited the 6-foot-11 big man and his family in Orlando, Florida, Blackshear’s father refuted reports on two separate occasions before finally admitting the events did, in fact, happen.
At the time, it was unclear as to why there was so much secrecy when it came to Kentucky’s interest in the highly-coveted graduate transfer. One theory was that the UK coaching staff didn’t want EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards, who were both testing the NBA Draft waters at the time, to feel that they were being forced out of Lexington. They wanted to pair the current Wildcat big men with Blackshear, not replace them with the Second Team All-ACC forward.
Fast forward a little over a month, and Kentucky now has both Montgomery and Richards back in the fold for the 2019-20 season. But what does that mean for UK’s recruitment of not only Blackshear, but another potential frontcourt addition via reclassification or on the graduate transfer market?
On Tuesday, Kentucky head coach John Calipari said that while he is happy about the current state of his roster, he would be open to bringing in another piece if he felt it benefited both sides.
“I’m really happy with where we are right now,” he said. “If there is anything that can help us, and also help the player, then I would consider that.”
The reasoning for potentially adding another piece? He has Montgomery, Richards, and Bucknell transfer Nate Sestina in the frontcourt, but an injury could be detrimental to the team’s depth up front.
“You’ve got [three] guys, but what if one of them gets hurt? Now you’re playing four guards, which I haven’t done before, but I can figure it out,” he said.
In their first media availability since making their decisions to return to Kentucky for another season, Montgomery and Richards were both asked about the idea of adding another big man to the roster and their thoughts on the matter.
In short, they’d both be perfectly content with another big man joining the fold this season.
For EJ Montgomery, the 6-foot-11 forward said that above all else, he trusts John Calipari and his opinion on the roster. If the Kentucky head coach thinks they need to add another piece, he’s all for it. If not, he’s ready to work with what he has going into the season.
“Whatever Coach Cal thinks we need,” Montgomery said. “If he thinks we need more people or if we don’t, we got to go out there and compete.”
As for Nick Richards, he agreed with his teammate in the frontcourt, saying he trusts the Kentucky coaching staff to do what is best for the team.
“Right now, we don’t know what the roster situation is,” Richards said. “The coaches know what they’re doing, so our job as players right now is to get better on our game and just keep improving.”