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John Calipari on EJ Montgomery: “[He] was ridiculous. That’s my vision of him.”

After weeks of showing brief spurts of brilliance on the floor, sophomore forward EJ Montgomery finally put together a complete performance on both ends of the floor, finishing the victory with 12 points on 5-11 shooting, eight rebounds, three steals, one assist, and one block.

As the lead voice in Montgomery’s conditioning efforts in hopes of the former top-10 recruit putting together more than five-minute stretches of excellence and extending that to complete games, Kentucky head coach John Calipari was floored during his postgame press conference.

At the end of the day, this is what Calipari expected when he signed Montgomery in the spring of 2018. This was his vision.

“When EJ plays the way he played, we have a chance,” Calipari said of the 6-foot-11 sophomore. “What EJ did is what my vision for him is.”

As confident as Montgomery is in his shooting abilities, Calipari felt the sophomore forward was so successful because he attacked the rim and forced the issue inside as opposed to floating on the perimeter.

“Notice he didn’t take many jump shots, and the ones he did take, he missed,” Calipari said. “Everything else was at the rim, at the rim, at the rim. He squared up and attacked the rim. What about that block on the other end? What about that play where the [defender] grabbed his arm and he finished the and-one?”

The reason why Montgomery was “ridiculous” and had a complete game on both ends of the floor? Conditioning, something Calipari has been stressing relentlessly in recent weeks.

“EJ was ridiculous. That’s my vision of him. That’s what I think he is,” Calipari said. “Why do you think that is? Conditioning. They don’t like it, it hurts. But the conditioning is paying off. Now it’s time for him to put his foot on the gas and keep [improving].”

Now that he’s in shape, Montgomery is now enjoying his time on the floor, smiling for the first time in what seems to be “the first time all season.”

“I received a text from someone after the game, he said it was the first time he has seen EJ smiling on the floor all season,” Calipari said. “Why? He’s in shape! He’s been conditioning! You don’t smile when you’re winded and out of shape.”

Nick Richards has been dominant for much of the season, but finding consistency elsewhere in the frontcourt has been a struggle.

If Montgomery can sustain this level of play to close out the season? As Calipari put it, this team “has a chance” to make noise this season.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

9 Comments for John Calipari on EJ Montgomery: “[He] was ridiculous. That’s my vision of him.”

  1. terwilliger
    5:40 am February 5, 2020 Permalink

    Hyperbole much? 12 and 8 is what we should be able to EXPECT from EJ. “Ridiculous” is what Nick has been doing.

    • 2andToodleLoo
      7:27 am February 5, 2020 Permalink

      Agree. Cal gives so much BS and coach speak about EJ. He must be very fragile mentally and Cal has to build him publicly. Glad he’s improving but good grief I don’t get the lavish comments Cal heaps on him for average things.

    • nocode96
      7:45 am February 5, 2020 Permalink

      Cal does that for everyone, especially when they haven’t BBC quite reached their potential yet. Thus isn’t anything new and is a sign of a caring coach. ALL coaches do this, quite literally every day you can find examples of coaches doing this.

    • gea
      11:15 am February 5, 2020 Permalink

      Come on. He is a 19 year old kid. Have you heard of Nick Richards? Some kids just take longer to develop.

  2. BigJohnC
    7:25 am February 5, 2020 Permalink

    High hopes for ej. Love seeing him chasing rebounds and go hard on defense. Best is yet to come

  3. wakegupper
    8:51 am February 5, 2020 Permalink

    So praising a guy that has struggled to play well for more than a few minutes and for taking a much heavier player to the woodshed for long stretches should be ignored? Yes this is what we should expect from EJ but it is the first time we have seen it. He got great love from our fans at Rupp last night, guess they shouldn’t have been appreciative of his effort either? Come on BBN, we are better than that.

    • terwilliger
      12:47 pm February 5, 2020 Permalink

      Nobody said EJ’s performance should be ignored, or that we shouldn’t be appreciative. Good lord, your hyperbole is as bad as Cal’s. I simply said that calling his performance “ridiculous” is a stretch, in my opinion.

  4. gea
    10:59 am February 5, 2020 Permalink

    SUPER proud of E.J. Keep it up.

  5. Jeffrey_M
    4:41 pm February 5, 2020 Permalink

    Montgomery was, indeed, great. But it wasn’t his first time out of the chute this season. This was actually his FOURTH GAME where he scored in double digits:

    1.) ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (Nov. 29, exhibition) = 16 pts, 8 rbs
    2.) FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON (Dec. 7, exhibition) = 25 pts, 9 rbs
    3.) GEORGIA (Jan. 21) = 10 pts, 6 rbs
    4.) MISSISSIPPI STATE (Feb. 4) = 12 pts, 8 rbs

    And in every game where EJ did happen to score 9-or-more points, Kentucky won. Obviously, the young man is capable of a lot and coach Cal knows this. But the thing that we all want to see from him is the exact same thing we’re all seeing from both Richards and Quickley right now: CONSISTENCY and CONFIDENCE. Coach Cal’s lavish praise of EJ is simply part of the strategy to help build Montgomery’s confidence and to hopefully help keep him performing at a high output.

    GO CATS!