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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: Positive update on E.J. Montgomery

John Calipari is selling EJ Montgomery on being a missing piece for UK, and he likes it.

Courtside Films

Kentucky’s 2018 recruiting class is short on big men.

While Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson, and Tyler Herro have Kentucky looking set in the backcourt, the Wildcats would ideally like to bring in a big man in the class.

Enter E.J. Montgomery.

The former Auburn Tigers commitment recently visited Kentucky over the weekend, and John Calipari is pitching to Montgomery (ranked as highly as #6 in the class by 247 Sports) that he can be Kentucky’s missing piece in the class.

Montgomery’s high school coach, Larry Thompson, told SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker that Calipari is telling Montgomery that they need him in the 2018 class.

“Cal’s words were, ‘You’re not a want, you’re a need. We need a guy like you that can take the scoring load off of some of the wings, some of the guards.’ To hear words like that coming from Coach Cal, I’m not sure he uses those words all the time or often,” Montgomery’s high school coach, Larry Thompson, told SEC Country on Tuesday.

Montgomery apparently is enthralled with Kentucky’s track record of placing successful big men in the NBA. DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, and Bam Adebayo are all having successful NBA careers thus far, and provide an example of what E.J. Montgomery could turn into.

This quote from Tucker’s article should provide some optimism for the Big Blue Nation.

“Teammates rib him all the time: ‘Here you are right now with us and a year from now you’re at Kentucky and a year later you’re in the league,’ ” Thompson said.

Once thought to be a heavy Duke lean, it seems like Kentucky may be making up some ground in Montgomery’s recruitment. Landing him would be a nice bounce back for Calipari and Kentucky in the recruiting world.

Duke is still the leader, according to 247’s Crystal Ball, but it sounds like the race for Montgomery is far from over.

Even with what looks like momentum for UK in this recruitment, Calipari is probably hoping Montgomery doesn’t make a decision anytime soon. After all, UK could conceivably return Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards, PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones to the frontcourt next year.

That would make this an unappealing situation for a recruit like Montgomery, who would probably find bigger roles at UNC and Duke in that scenario.

But there’s a chance Vanderbilt goes pro, and who knows. Maybe one of those other guys decides to transfer, clearing an easier path for Montgomery to become a major factor next season.

Make sure you stop by SEC Country and read Tucker’s full column regarding Montgomery’s recruitment.

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