Kentucky fans were bummed when EJ Montgomery had to sit out the final three games of the Big Blue Bahamas Tour in August. Montgomery’s lower back only allowed him to play one game.
He finished with an impressive eight points and six rebounds, which isn’t too shabby for an 19-year-old kid playing against grown men. Montgomery didn’t care so much about his one solid performance, he was annoyed he had to miss the other three.
“I was kinda upset,” Montgomery said. “They were playing so well I just wanted to go out there and play with them.”
With the exception of the one game in August (he said he could have played if it were an NCAA Tournament game) and UK’s Basketball Pro Day on Sunday (where John Calipari said he was still slightly injured) we have to go back to the all-star circuit in the spring to see some tape on Montgomery.
But in the spring the action wasn’t with Montgomery on the court, it was off of it. At that time Montgomery was uncommitted and seemingly down to Duke and UK for his services. If you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, the Duke and UK rivalry is at its nastiest when the two recruit against one another.
People most in the know heading into the all-star circuit thought Duke was the leader, but shortly after the games he committed to Kentucky. Rumors quickly surfaced that Montgomery didn’t vibe with the Duke commits.
Montgomery denied anything happened during the McDonald’s All-American game, but the smile on his face when talking about it maybe said more than his quoted recollection.
“Nothing happened,” Montgomery said. “I had fun at McDonald’s All-American. There was nothing that happened. It was a regular McDonald’s All-American game.”
Now he will face the Duke Blue Devils in his first collegiate game. Whatever, if anything, happened between Montgomery and the Duke commits can be settled on the court, and Montgomery admitted he really wants to beat Duke. Although that’s not unique to just Duke.
“I want to beat those guys really bad, but I also want to beat everybody else really bad,” Montgomery said. “I don’t think it’s a rivalry, it’s just a game I want to compete in. It will be very fun. I know those guys, we’re very close and it’s going to be fun to compete against them.”
At this point, Montgomery is looking forward to competing against anybody that’s different than his teammates. With the exception of his one game against the Bahamas National Team you have to travel back to the all-star games since he faced unfamiliar competition.
Perhaps he’s looking forward to taking on easier opponents. Montgomery said his teammates are forcing him to play a variety of styles, and it hasn’t been easy.
“I have to come at those guys in different ways,” Montgomery said. “Reid is very physical, Nick, he is a big guy and P.J. can do it all. To score I have to do different things and it’s helping me with my all around game.”
“… Something I didn’t expect is how hard we work everyday. I knew it was going to be hard but it’s a different level here at Kentucky. We had hard workouts (at home) but workouts here are pretty different.”
Check out the rest of KSR’s 2018-19 Basketball Preview Series:
Coming soon: Nick Richards | PJ Washington | Quade Green | Jemarl Baker | Brad Calipari | Jonny David | Zan Payne