EJ Montgomery announced his decision to enter his name in the 2019 NBA Draft on Friday morning. His intention is to get feedback from NBA personnel and possibly forego his sophomore season if he receives a first-round evaluation.
Montgomery’s decision received high praise from his teammates and coaches.
“EJ improved so much during the year. 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,” said John Calipari.
With that said, though, there were plenty of confused members of the Big Blue Nation when it came to Montgomery’s announcement.
Just from the standpoint that EJ’s name has rarely popped up on NBA draft boards and mock drafts throughout the season if at all, some people have a point in questioning his thought process. The 6-10 forward averaged only 3.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and a block a game during his freshman campaign.
With PJ Washington and Reid Travis both missing time down the stretch of the season, Montgomery gained a very important role in the Wildcat’s lineup. Even for a player who made big strides as the year went on, that’s still not the type of production NBA teams are readily prepared to spend a draft pick on, especially a first-round selection that Montgomery is looking for.
When you look at how the NCAA has changed this process, though, how can anyone blame Montgomery for taking advantage of this opportunity? With the new NCAA rules, Montgomery can sign with an NCAA-certified agent in order to gather the information he’s looking for.
For all anyone knows, EJ may really have no intention of leaving Lexington at all and is only in it for the feedback that will help change his game and make it more NBA-ready for scouts to evaluate for next season.
If you flashback to this time last year, PJ Washington was in the same situation and was much more likely to leave than Montgomery. He brought back invaluable information from the league’s draft process and took advantage of it by turning himself into one of the best players in college basketball.
With a similar frame and skill set, EJ will have the opportunity to do the same, assuming the very likely outcome of him returning to school becoming even more of a reality.
Even with Nate Sestina joining next year’s team, there are still questions about Nick Richards and where Kentucky stands with Jaden McDaniels that will make EJ Montgomery’s decision even more important for next year’s front court.
Assuming nothing unexpected happens, fans should take a breath knowing Montgomery will likely return to play a crucial role in the success of next year’s team.