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EJ Montgomery Might Be The Most Important “Stay or Go” Decision Left in the NBA Draft

Late Tuesday night, under the cloak of darkness, one of the last big puzzle pieces in the 2019 recruiting class officially fell. After a back-and-forth recruitment, one that left even the best recruiting experts uncertain of where he’d land, Jaden McDaniels officially decided to play at Washington.

Although Washington was the spot that McDaniels’ recruitment had trended for weeks, no one really knew where he’d end up… until he actually ended up there, choosing the Huskies over Kentucky while most fans slept the night away.

But with McDaniels’ recruitment officially closed, another reality set in for Kentucky on Wednesday morning: For the Wildcats to reach their full potential next season, they need EJ Montgomery to come back to Lexington. As a matter of fact, I think you could make a legitimate case that of all the players who are still truly “testing the waters” in the NBA Draft process, Montgomery is the most important decision left anywhere in college basketball.

Now to be clear, this isn’t just about McDaniels’ decision to go elsewhere, as it was never really an “either/or” kind of deal between the two. Although both are listed at 6’11, they play a completely different style of game, with McDaniels much more comfortable putting the ball on the floor as more of a hybrid, new-age four-man in the mold of Kevin Durant, Tracy McGrady or Michael Porter Jr. (to be clear, I’m not comparing McDaniels upside to any of those players – just his style of play). Montgomery, as we all saw last year, is more of a traditional four-man, not quite as comfortable making plays for himself, but more competent around the rim and in the paint.

Had McDaniels chosen Kentucky he wouldn’t have necessarily been a player to “replace” Montgomery, but instead one to compliment him.

Still with McDaniels finally of the picture, Reid Travis graduated, and PJ Washington gone after his sophomore year, there is in fact a gaping hole in the Kentucky front-court. And the best option to fill that spot and maximize the potential out of this entire Kentucky team would be for Montgomery to return.

The bottom-line is that Montgomery fills an incredible void for the Wildcats next year as a big-time threat down low. Admittedly, he didn’t have a great offensive season last year (averaging just four points a game) but did show flashes, with 11 points and 13 boards against South Carolina, and a couple other double-figure scoring games, to go along with several more where he helped the team on the glass. Considering his pedigree as a McDonald’s All-American it doesn’t seem far-fetched to assume that he would make a leap similar to PJ Washington last summer and become a focal point of the offense. He might not become an All-SEC caliber player like Washington. But it isn’t necessarily inconceivable either.

Just as important, his skill-set certainly fits with the other guys that Kentucky is projected to have back. If the Wildcats want to go big, Montgomery can play the four-spot, with Nick Richards (assuming Richards returns as well) serving as a rim protector and true center. If they want to go small, Montgomery would fit in well as a new-age five-man, with Kahlil Whitney stepping in at the four-spot. John Calipari wants to play position-less basketball, and the two of them really would make a dynamic duo together.

Because of that, Montgomery is the missing piece for Kentucky. The guy who makes them the heavy favorite in the SEC, and a legit national championship contender.

But without him? There is that gaping hole in the middle, with no obvious replacements available.

Looking at the other options, we all know that Richards doesn’t have the offensive upside of Montgomery, and I do worry about Nate Sestina’s ability to transition to the increased competition in the SEC. Kerry Blackshear is of course a possibility, but he seems hell bent on staying in the draft if at all possible. Beyond that, it seems like a reach to get any other high school players to reclassify, and no other grad transfers have been linked to UK either.

Yup, EJ Montgomery remains the best available option for a consistent front-court presence for the Wildcats next year.

Will he be back?

It could be the difference between the Wildcats being a legit title contender and a good, but not great team.


UK Announces Inaugural Father/Daughter John Calipari Basketball Camp

@CoachCalDotCom

The Kentucky basketball father/son camp has been a staple in the Bluegrass for years. Now it’s the girls’ turn.

This summer John Calipari will host the first ever Kentucky Basketball Father/Daughter Camp. Fathers and daughters will receive individual instruction from UK basketball players and coaches during the one-day event. The skill work is designed to give both father and daughter drills and techniques to take home and continue working on together.

The camp is set for June 22 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Joe Craft Center and costs $198 for the father-daughter combo. It’s open to all fathers and daughters from ages 6-17, regardless of basketball experience. Campers will receive two sessions of instruction, lunch, a camp t-shirt and photo/autograph opportunities with the players and coaches.

Online registration is now open. Click here to find more information on the camp. If you’re interested in other Kentucky basketball camps, you’ll find all that information here.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 151: Arkansas Head Coach Eric Musselman + Jaden McDaniels Fallout

The holiday weekend is coming up — but before you hit the road, make sure to download the newest episode of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. Aaron discusses Jaden McDaniels commitment and what it means for Washington and Kentucky, as well as the hire of Juwan Howard at Michigan. Then he is joined by his old friend Eric Musselman, who recently took the Arkansas Razorbacks head coaching gig. Here is a rundown of today’s show:

Jaden McDaniels commits to Washington: Late Tuesday one of the last big dominos in college basketball recruiting fell when Jaden McDaniels committed to Washington. Aaron explains why its huge for the Dawgs, and why Washington should start the season in the Top 15. Also, he explains what it means for Kentucky, and why the return of E.J. Montgomery now becomes that much more important.

Juwan Howard is the new head coach at Michigan: Aaron breaks down the decision by Michigan to hire Juwan Howard as its next head coach. While some in the media have questioned the hire, Aaron actually thinks it works. He explains why you shouldn’t compare Howard to Penny Hardaway or Chris Mullin, but instead, another former NBA star turned active college coach.

Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman joins the show: So a little over a year ago Aaron got everyone on “The Muss Bus” and Eric Musselman once again makes his return to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. Musselman talks about his decision to leave Nevada, why the Arkansas job was so appealing, and how he plans to recruit and build the program. Also, can he convince Aaron to make a trip down to Fayetteville for a game next season?

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.  You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.


KSR Show Thread, 5/23: Back at KSJail

On today’s edition of Kentucky Sports Radio radio, Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond are at KSJail for the third straight day to talk about the latest in BBN and Ryan’s incarceration. Tune in.

Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (772) 774-5254.

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Today on KSR: Pre-NBA Draft Workouts

Today on KSR: Pre-NBA Draft Workouts

Less than a week away from the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline, workouts for pro prospects are cranking up around the country. Tyler Herro will take the court today in New York City to show off his skills in front of scouts in a pro day setting. He appears to be in good form ahead of the event.

E.J. Montgomery got things rolling yesterday. The power forward was in San Antonio to workout for the Spurs. Keldon Johnson had a pro day of his own in Phoenix in front of NBA scouts. One of the more polarizing players in the draft, teams either love his potential or hate his inconsistency.

Aside from the players on the hardwood, there’s plenty of other news circulating around the Big Blue Nation.

Mitch Barnhart Named AD of the Year

Sports Business Journal confirmed what we already knew — Mitch Barnhart is the best athletic director in America. Over the last 17 years in Lexington, he’s improved facilities and raised the standard for every athletic program.

“I am honored and thankful to represent the University of Kentucky in receiving this award,” Barnhart said. “It’s truly a testament to the incredible work our student-athletes, coaches and staff have done to build a program to make the Big Blue Nation and the Commonwealth proud. I also want to say a special thank you to my wife, Connie, and my entire family for taking this journey with me. We have much work ahead of us though, and we can’t wait to do it.”

Louisville City Stadium Tour

Louisville’s professional soccer team will get a new stadium next spring. Today construction crews are opening their doors to show progress on the $65 million facility. I’ll be wearing my hardhat with KRC crew to check out the new digs and share with the KSR audience.

OTAs are Underway

NFL teams have reported back to camp for a week of practice, which means guys like Benny Snell and Josh Allen are getting their first taste of action against NFL vets. I’ll let you know how they’ve fared so far a little later today.

@jawaan_taylor74

A HUGE Game 5

I’ll admit, I haven’t watched a lot of these NBA playoffs. That changes tonight when the Milwaukee Bucks host the Toronto Raptors at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT. The series is currently dead even at 2-2. The winner of tonight’s game will more than likely be the team tasked to take down the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. No pressure.

You People are Crazy

Somebody is driving around Lexington with “Free Ryan Lemond” on the back of their car.

Even the Bang This Twins have gotten involved.

People have taken Ryan Lemond’s “Putt for Prison” failure to hilarious and generous extremes. To shorten Ryan’s sentence, Matt Jones tasked fans to raise $10,000 for charity. That goal was reached in just a few hours. Matt upped the ante, offering to stay a night with Drew and Ryan if fans reached the $15,000 mark. This morning the GoFundMe has exceeded $16,000. Incredible.

Why stop now? Click here to continue to help CASA of Lexington, the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana and SCORE International. The KSR crew will be back on air with the latest from KSJail in just an hour.