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The Curious Case of E.J. Montgomery (and other names)

Kentucky has all the momentum in the world when it comes to E.J. Montgomery’s recruitment and that’s something that has changed over the last few weeks.

So, what happened?

Before we get to Montgomery’s recruitment let’s do a refresher. Montgomery is a five-star forward from Marietta, Ga. He played for Wheeler High School (where former UK target Jaylen Brown played)  and it’s just outside of Atlanta. He’s 6-foot-10, 215-pounds and a forward that does a little bit of everything. He’s not a bruiser on the block but he has a nice touch around the rim. He wouldn’t be an elite stretch four, but he can knockdown open shots from outside. He’s not an elite defender but he can block shots and he isn’t easily pushed around. Montgomery is good at everything but not elite at one specific thing.

Montgomery was initially committed to Auburn but decommitted when the FBI mess happened. Since backing away from the Tigers other schools popped up as major players. Many consider it a three-team race between UK, Duke and North Carolina, but Vanderbilt is also in the hunt.

Lately it seems like UK has been surging for Montgomery after it initially appeared Duke would be the team to beat. Things have changed.

Sources tell Kentucky Sports Radio that Duke is weighing other options while keeping an eye on Montgomery. Basically the way I read the conversation was that Duke still may lock in on Montgomery, but the Blue Devils are exploring grad-transfer options. “Eh, we like you but do we like someone better?”

Has UK jumped in the lead because Duke potentially prefers other players? There’s a chance. And if UK ends up with Montgomery then that would be an amazing pull this late in the recruiting season. The Cats seemingly lead for Ashton Hagans and Montgomery and the Calipari could end up with another class of four five-star players and Tyler Herro, who is fringe five-star shooter.

That would easily be the second best class in the country and more to Calipari’s high standards. No one expected the Cats to sign a star-studded class two months ago.

There’s still much to be determined and there’s no guarantee that UK lands either Hagans or Montgomery, but things are moving in the right direction. But after UK was shocked by Duke’s recruiting class, should the Cats be looking at grad-transfers, too?

Below are two names to keep an eye on moving forward. As of today there are NO indications that either player will leave their current schools, but both players have been mentioned as possible grad-transfer and could change the landscape of college basketball if they go elsewhere.

USA Today

Mike Daum (South Dakota State): 23.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

The Dauminator took the nation by storm and because of his scoring ability South Dakota State became a trendy pick to make a serious March run. The Jackrabbits had their chances against Ohio State and were tied at the half, but fell by eight.

It’s unclear what Daum will do next. He will have a chance at the NBA and probably should go through the process without an agent, but he will have two weeks to make that decision. Another option is to be the missing piece on a Final Four contender and while his numbers would likely go down he would be competing on a big stage nightly.

It’s worth mentioning that his teammate Matt Mooney has already announce his plans to leave South Dakota State. It’s probably not overly realistic he will be able to lead South Dakota State to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament by himself.

Keep an eye on what Daum decides to do.

USA Today

Reid Travis (Stanford): 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. 

Travis has actually already played four seasons at Stanford but was granted a medical hardship last May, which will allow him to play one more season of college basketball if that’s what he wants to do.

Again, like with Daum, there’s no current indication that Travis plans on leaving Stanford and there’s certainly no indication that he would prefer a grad-transfer over just going to the NBA Draft. As a 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward he would be slightly undersized in the NBA and relies on bullying opponents in college basketball. Something that isn’t guaranteed to work at the next level.

But he’s damn good at doing it in the PAC-12. Duke and Minnesota desperately wanted Travis but he stuck with Stanford the first go around. He could return home to Minnesota for one final season or he could decide to go to a blueblood which would make things interesting.

I’d be shocked to see Travis end up in Lexington, but if Washington were to surprise folks and stay in the draft he would be the perfect replacement.

It would be surprising to see UK reach out to a grad-transfer guard, but that’s not stopping other powers from trying to fill holes on their rosters. UK likely will add Ashton Hagans and not another guard from another school.

Another thing to remember is that UK hasn’t given up on James Wiseman joining the Cats for the 2018-2019 season. That’s what makes this so tricky for Calipari and his staff.  Obviously UK would like to add Montgomery. And that may very well happen, but Montgomery wouldn’t scare away Wiseman.

But would a grad-transfer that only had one year to play and the expectation would be for him to get plenty of run? That could be a different story for Wiseman. That’s what UK’s having to figure out and that’s why ultimately I believe UK will still go hard after Montgomery with hopes of adding Wiseman later this summer.

However, if the Cats decide a grad-transfer would be a better option watch those two names. My guess is UK adds Montgomery and will actively try and land Wiseman for next season.

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Article written by TJ Walker

17 Comments for The Curious Case of E.J. Montgomery (and other names)



  1. westkycat20
    12:17 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

    TJ…thanks for making the jump over. More articles like this….year round please and thank you.



  2. Rick_S
    12:27 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

    keep up the good work TJ….



  3. dbookno1
    12:29 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

    Tj coming to KSR is the perfect marriage, keep up the great articles, I can’t wait for the podcasts



  4. Smyrna_Cat
    12:33 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

    I enjoyed the article. Thanks. It does seem WAY speculative to talk about player that haven’t said they are interested in transferring (and, as you said, there is no indication of interest) and haven’t had any interest in coming to UK even if they did transfer. In a week where this site has been more “what ifs” than anything else. I was hoping for something a bit more grounded. Can you tell us more about the Montgomery situation?



    • BlueSteel
      1:20 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

      But that’s just it – Recruiting is a speculative game… there are no sure things. Many times, the recruits themselves don’t even no for sure what they want to do etc.



    • Alex90
      1:29 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

      You are commenting on a article telling you more about Montgomery?



    • UKinIN
      1:48 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

      Seems like 5th year transfers, or transfers in general, are more of a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” situation. Like coaches aren’t supposed to contact players to check for interest but word of interest “gets around”. My take on the transfers is that TJ is hearing things that aren’t being discussed publicly. Why else would he even have the names in the first place?



    • Megan
      4:31 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

      So you’re speculating about TJ’s speculation? Don’t do that. Let TJ tell you what he knows or what he’s “hearing.”



    • Cletis75
      6:01 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

      It’s a well known fact that Cal is not a fan of stealing players from other programs. That’s why we don’t know if there is any interest from guys that haven’t shown they might transfer. Uncle Julius was different because he reached out to UK and Cal. He was transferring period, UK or not, so Cal heard him out.unlike other coaches, he doesn’t go sneaking around other coaches back door. If guys haven’t shown they are leaving their current team, Cal is not gonna recruit another teams best player and do that to another coach! Remember Bruiser Flynt losing his job after Pitino took Damion Lee and his team fell apart without him.



  5. Ridge Runner
    12:36 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

    Great update



  6. Blublood41
    12:43 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

    The podcast is going to be great. And much more info here than the cats pause.



  7. Underdog
    1:58 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

    Daum it! Wow! 24 points and 10 rebounds a game! Would love to get that type of warrior for one year on next year’s team. Mike Daum is 6′-9″ and 250 lbs, and averages 1.3 APG too. He can shoot!!! He makes 2.7 threes a game at 43%. He hits 85% of his FT’s. He made 96 threes last year!

    Can he guard though?

    But man, having him on offense would really open things up. You couldn’t cheat on him because he might be the best long-range threat on the team at 43%! Which would open up the driving lanes for others like Hagans, Quickley, PJ, Jarred, or Herro or Johnson.

    With all the talk of signing more people I think Jarred is gone (he’s too hard for a NBA team to pass up), and Diallo for sure, and of course Alexander. That’s 4 gone incl Tai. Maybe Baker transfers, that’s 5. Maybe one more will leave, like Gabriel or Nick. I want them all back, esp Jarred, but with Cal out recruiting hard for this year, I think he knows there will be an exodus.



    • Underdog
      2:00 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

      Diallo won’t play in the NBA soon, but has a pro career somewhere.



    • Alex90
      2:14 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

      Are you on drugs?



    • Blublood41
      2:35 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

      I hope not. I can understand our best going the one and done route but this exodus crap is getting old. We won’t be able to compete for titles if we can’t get experience and keep it. No way we win in 2012 without Miller. And I think Cal is finally starting to see the light.



    • Cletis75
      6:05 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

      Vanderbilt is injury prone, a huge red flag for NBA teams. 82 games is rigorous for anyone, much less someone who hasn’t played that many games in 3 years.