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Your move, EJ Montgomery

With Nick Richards back on board for another run at the title, Kentucky now has two big men locked in on next year’s roster: Richards and Nate Sestina, the grad transfer out of Bucknell. Those are two good pieces, but they won’t be enough. Kentucky still needs to add one more and the two obvious options for that spot are EJ Montgomery and Kerry Blackshear Jr.

Montgomery is the most likely of the two, but he is far from a sure thing to rejoin his old college team. Matter of fact, I’m beginning to think it is more likely he goes than returns. Word around Montgomery is he really wants to turn pro this summer, so much that he is willing to take any kind of a promise from an NBA team. Then there was last week’s comment from Tony Delk, who had a training session with Montgomery, saying he thinks Montgomery is leaning toward staying in the draft and leaving Kentucky for good.

Whether or not leaving is the best option for Montgomery is meaningless at this point because he has probably already made up his mind. The deadline to return to school is at midnight tomorrow night, so we will soon know his final decision. My guess is it will come tomorrow afternoon. If he returns, Kentucky is in pretty good shape with the three big men plus talent at every other position. Adding Blackshear would be a lovely bonus, but Calipari can roll with three big guys. If Montgomery goes, we turn to Blackshear for much-needed help.

Blackshear’s situation is a little different than Montgomery’s in that he doesn’t have to make a final decision by tomorrow at midnight. He can decide to return to college basketball, but there is no rush to name which school he will attend for his grad transfer year. One can assume Kentucky will be in the mix, maybe even the leader if Montgomery isn’t back, but Blackshear can make that decision on his own timetable because he has immediate eligibility to transfer wherever.

Like Montgomery, though, the belief around Blackshear is that he too wants to keep his name in the draft. However, he isn’t considered a highly-rated prospect by any of the major services. He doesn’t even crack ESPN’s top 100 players in this draft class. But that doesn’t mean he won’t make the decision to go ahead and start earning a living as a professional somewhere.

Bottom line here is it is great to have Richards back for a junior season, but Kentucky still needs one more body in the paint and either Montgomery or Blackshear will do. Fans may disagree on which of those two they prefer, but the future of one of the options, Montgomery, will be decided within the next 35 hours because it has to be made. He can solve UK’s big man problem by midnight tomorrow night.

Your move, EJ.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

29 Comments for Your move, EJ Montgomery

  1. VirginiaCat
    3:19 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    EJ coming back will not “solve UK’s big man problem” if the objective is a national championship.

    • Corder
      3:58 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      Why won’t it? People are always trying to say you need to have bigs like Reid, Demarcus or even grant Williams. I get the thought behind that but to be honest the game is different now. Bigs don’t need to be huge guys. Length is something you can’t teach and both EJ and Nick have that. Something we have lacked the past two to three years is shot blockers. We had two very skilled bigs last year but they couldn’t block shots at all. You need rim protectors and that’s something both of those guys bring to the table. So to be honest I like having two rim protectors compared to two guys that constantly get drove by and have no way of making up for that.

    • DelrayCat
      4:36 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      Look at Virginia. They just won the title with basically no true bigs. Their 7-footers barely played in the NCAA tourney. They basically won it with 6 players…with EVERYONE rebounding. Granted they had 3 starters at 6-7 to 6-9 and tallish guard in Jerome…but smallish ball can win it.

    • DelrayCat
      4:43 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      Of course the difference is experience. For instance, VIrginia’s Hunter redshirted…and then played 2 years…and now he is projected to be in the top 5. Same with the rest of those starting 6…all experienced..and will STILL make millions playing professionally.

    • Skooms
      4:58 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      A lot of Virginia’s success came down to LUCK! VA along with dUKe should have lost 2 games in the tourney if not for referee bailouts.

    • 4everUKblue
      5:17 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      Yep VA and dUKe won with the help of the refs. dUKe should have lost to UCF but the refs had other ideas, VA was bailed out on more than one occasion, that’s life in the ACC, the All Cheat Conference.

    • DelrayCat
      5:37 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      Oh don’t be such a conspiracy theorist baby, EVERY team that wins a title wins close, or lucky, games. If you watched them, UVa was the best team all year…hands down. They played great defense and team ball and deserved to win the title. And they did it with experienced guys, a short rotation, and not a bunch of freshmen.

    • Corder
      8:00 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      Well delray, I remember when all that experience lost to a 16 seed as the number one overall seed. So say what you will about all that experience but it seems to me that a lot of those teams lose every year with all that experience just like the ones that are doing it with talented freshman. So keep screaming experience is the most important thing and I’ll stick with actual talent and not a gimmick offense every year. Once that gimmick gets figured out like duke seems to figure it out every year against them they have nothing else to fall back on. Just like Syracuse and their 2-3. That’s all they have.

    • mashburnfan1
      10:46 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      Corder…actually UVA was not that experienced when they lost as the 1 seed, especially as far as having success is concerned. That goes for the players and the staff, I believe they thought the 1 seed was an auto win and did not take it too serious. They were much more experienced overall this season and the loss last year probably helped them win it this year. As for the morons talking refs, for sure 4ever is one as all UK losses were refs fault according to him, the foul at the end of the Auburn game it was a clear foul, PERIOD.

    3:31 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    With Nick coming back, if I knew Blackshear was only waiting to see if EJ returned, I’d be hoping for EJ to stay in the draft.

  3. BCC
    3:34 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    Hope Montgomery goes to his next destination, KB would be a great late addition if Cal can pull it off.

    • Catlogic15
      3:48 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      Blackshear will not return to college. Won’t greatly improve his game to move (way) up in the draft next year. Would be great for UK, just not great for Blackshear. Same as Travis.

  4. mothandras
    4:02 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    Montgomery stays in the draft.. and Blackshear doesn’t return to college. UK loses 12 games next year.. and exits the second round of the NCAA Tournament..

    • TheAssman
      4:13 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      Who wins the Belmont?

    • 4everUKblue
      5:13 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      Sounds a lot like mashbumKfanboy and a couple others.

    • Fitz
      5:20 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      I won’t bet against your first two predictions, but would bet the ranch on UK losing 12 next year, and the truck on losing in the second round of the NCAA .

    • mashburnfan1
      10:52 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      I make no guesses yet because we have no idea what we have. We know we have Nick who has done next to nothing in 2 years but seems to have potential. We have 2 returning guards that were average at best last year that we hope and expect to improve. Then we have all the high rated FR that you never know, will some be AD, Wall like or will some be Richards, Briscoe or Skal like. None of last years FR were great and if that happens with this class we don’t do well. If one or 2 are very good to great and the returning guys all improve we have a shot. Will be able to tell about January, just like every year.

  5. BCC
    4:06 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    I don’t expect KB at UK regardless of what Montgomery does, though I still hope Montgomery chases his dream.

    • TheMaxCat
      5:02 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      If Blackshear isn’t projected to be drafted in this years weaker draft, I think it most definitely would help him to come to Kentucky where he would get some new coaching, be surrounded with better players and possibly show he’s got the game to be a stretch 4 and smallball 5 at the next level but just as importantly, if his game for some reason doesn’t transition so well to the league then he closes in on his Masters Degree and develops some new connections to help him pursue other endeavors outside the hoops arena. But the best case scenario (and one I optimistically foresee) is he helps lead UK to a Final 4 and his value goes up and he uses that degree later. As for Montgomery, I would love for him to return and put a period on all the speculation and second guessing and develop his game one more year…..but my vibes say he’s already got a foot out the door. Hope I’m wrong!

  6. jos_ros_
    4:21 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    i never understand why some people give EJ no slack, he played limited minutes unlike the other freshman last year therefore wasn’t ever able to get comfortable. If he comes back i see no reason why he couldn’t get way better

  7. BCC
    4:31 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    I think Montgomery would make great strides next season but he does not want to be at UK. Granted very few that do play at UK in today’s college basketball want to be here but at least the vast majority that leave are making smart decisions and are ready to make the jump. Montgomery OTOH will get physically abused in any professional league on Earth.

  8. Fitz
    5:16 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    The game has changed and “big men” are less important unless they can do more than block shots and dunk on alley opps.

      10:24 am May 29, 2019 Permalink

      Not true. WCS and Noel are very similar players to Nick. WCS has done very well in Sacramento, and if Noel had stayed healthy, he’d be a starter…but is still a good role player. Nick has already shown he can hit the mid-range shot. If he were to add the 3 to his game, he’d be a top-30 pick easy.

  9. twilkjr
    5:41 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    UK being the NBA’s D-league is getting old. I wish the NBA would just let these guys go in at any age so we could get some young men that actually want to play some college basketball.

  10. dcforuk
    6:50 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    Champions GENERALLY require a stud, very good players and no starter that is just average or below. Teague was a 2012 “good” point guard. Who is the stud next year? A “good” center and/or a good power forward aren’t necessarily disqualifiers.

  11. dcforuk
    6:55 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    Can Khalil be like MKG? That is asking a lot. Can Maxey be as good as Lamb? Very possible. Can Hagans be better than Teague? Very possible. Can EJ, if applicable, match Jones? Yes. Davis vs Richards is a tough (and unfair) comparison. Whitney being like MKG may be the x factor.

    • Corder
      9:13 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

      I would say brooks could be as good as Jones and possibly better on D than Jones was. If Hagans could learn to finish strong at the rim I don’t see why he couldn’t be as good if not better than Teague. Whitney I can see what you’re saying about the MKG mold. MKG was very special and did just about everything except for the three ball. So to think Whitney with his size and athleticism could be like that isn’t to far fetched at all. Not that Richards and if EJ comes back could do what Davis did but if they both could protect the rim at half the rate as Davis did I don’t see why that couldn’t be a strong down low presence. Maxey could be better than lamb for the simple fact that he can maybe shot as good I don’t really know but he does everything else better it seems like. A thing this team will need is Quickly to be able to step up and start hitting from outside at a very consistent rate. That would help out a lot.

  12. unbiasedfan
    9:36 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    EJ is on the cusp of a
    major breakout as far as production and results. All it would take for him is to have 2-3 solid games in a row where he feels like he can do whatever he wants on the floor and the sky is the limit for him. Upside will be unreal. Would absolutely love to see him come back so BBN could witness his breakout. If not, it will take him 2-3 years to achieve the same breakout on the next level if at all. The NBA sometimes is not willing to wait.

  13. N-UR-i
    10:10 pm May 28, 2019 Permalink

    EJ Who?