The next in this long line of college basketball announcements has come from Kentucky freshman EJ Montgomery.
Montgomery has officially stated that he plans to test the NBA Draft waters, but he can still return for next season with the Kentucky Wildcats.
Montgomery started the 2018-2019 season a little behind after sitting out the summer Bahamas tour. Although PJ Washington and Reid Travis laid claim to the majority of the minutes, Richards balled-out and showed himself to be a good bench option for the front court.
“With that being said, I have sat down with Coach Cal and my family and decided to take full advantage of the rules that are in place and enter my name in the draft process. My goal is to be a first-rounder. If the information I receive supports that, my plan is to stay in the draft and pursue my dreams of playing in the NBA. Thank you BBN for your love and support through this important time in my life.”
It took most of the season to get there, but Montgomery carved a role out for himself, ultimately receiving more minutes than Richard for the season. Montgomery even got the starting nod when PJ Washington was unavailable during the NCAA Tournament.
Montgomery averaged 3.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1 block per game. Projecting that to playing an entire game, you get 10.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per 40 minutes. That’s quite a stat line.
Montgomery’s greatest contribution to the team was on the glass, especially on the offensive end. Over 40% of his rebounds came on the offensive end of the court, leading to some very important second chance points for the Wildcats.
“EJ improved so much during the year,” head coach John Calipari said in a press release. “He helped us win games and made a difference in so many other games. I think it is smart for him and his family to explore what his options truly are. I have no doubt in mind that EJ has a bright future. Whether the information says EJ should stay in the draft or come back for another year to prepare for the rest of his life, I’ll support his decision.”
Montgomery came to Kentucky ranked as high as the No. 6 player in the 2019 class, according to 247Sports. His back injury caused him to get a slower start to the season that expected, but there were times when his potential really started to show.
Montgomery has a solid outside shot, he hits the glass, and he has shown the ability to develop as a shot-blocker. He will be a huge asset to next year’s team if he returns, and he has a very high ceiling.
Given the others that are returning and the class coming in, EJ has the opportunity to be a part of a special team that makes a deep run next March. If his first-to-second year improvement at all mirrors that of PJ Washington, Montgomery has the ability to be in the All-American conversation next season.
But we can never completely rule out staying in the draft, especially if he gets great feedback, though it looks unlikely he’d even be drafted.