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UK Basketball: One thing for EJ Montgomery to improve on before next season

With such a loaded front court, Montgomery is going to have to earn his time on the court.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

EJ Montgomery, along with Jemarl Baker, was one of the Kentucky Wildcats that didn’t showcase all of his abilities in the Bahamas. After the first game against the Bahamas Select team, Montgomery missed the remaining three games due to a back injury.

We saw EJ for a limited amount of minutes, but what we did see was very positive. He was four of six from the field with eight points and six rebounds against the Bahamas Select team. He was very athletic around the rim and running the floor. He showcased his offensive ability where he was able to knock down a jumper and attempt some hook shots.

With such little to go by, it’s difficult to say exactly what he needs to work on for the season. With Nick Richards showing mass improvement and PJ Washington and Reid Travis proving that it will be really hard to leave them on the bench, Montgomery may find it difficult to find minutes.

So what can he do in order to carve out a place on the team?

Well, when you want to emulate Anthony Davis as a player, there’s a lot one can improve on.

“I hope our fans understand just how good EJ is and how excited we are to have him,” UK head coach John Calipari said in a news release on Montgomery signing with the Wildcats. “You’re talking about a skilled big man who can affect the game in a number of ways. EJ is the type of position-less player the game is moving towards. He can play just about anywhere and make plays on the perimeter with his skills and versatility, yet he’s got the length and the ability to finish in the post as well as anyone in this class.

“What I love about him is he models his game after Anthony Davis, one of the best we’ve ever had, but wants to be his own player and carve out his legacy”

That is a tall order to fill given the fact that AD had one of the, if not the best, single seasons of college basketball in the history of the game. One of Calipari’s favorite go-to lines when talking about his players sacrificing for the team is talking about Davis taking the fourth-most shots on the 2012 title team.

What set AD apart from the rest of that team wasn’t his offense; it was his defense. His shot blocking and his presence changed the dynamic of every opponent’s offense. Montgomery is 6-10, just like Davis was when he was at Kentucky, and has the potential to be a very good player on defense.

If EJ wants to become one of Cal’s top six players, he is going to need to work on his defensive game. Richards showed that he can prowl the paint on D and swat shots. Can EJ be better or equal to Richards in that regard? He plays above the rim more so than any other big that Kentucky has, so his advancement could make all the difference in the world.

As a highly-touted high school recruit, Montgomery’s vast offensive game was a big draw, but his defense wasn’t always what you’d like to see, and his motor wasn’t always as high as it needed to be.

Let’s not forget that Montgomery is a five-star prospect and one of the top-three big men in the 2018 class. He is going to have to push himself if he wants to see the floor for long stretches of time this season. If he can do that, it absolutely takes this team to the next level.

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