Most college teams have their rosters pretty much set when we get to the middle of May.
But with the Kentucky Wildcats, that’s rarely ever been the case under John Calipari.
This is the time of the offseason when Kentucky’s roster for the following season can be shaped in a variety of ways. Kentucky could end up making several more additions in the form of Jaden McDaniels and Kerry Blackshear Jr. while Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery pull out of the NBA Draft.
But Kentucky could also miss out on McDaniels and Blackshear while Montgomery surprises everyone and stays in the draft. So, these next few weeks will go a long way in determining how viable of a title contender Kentucky is next season.
Between McDaniels, Blackshear and Montgomery, you could make a case for either of the three being the most important player for next season. But if we’re looking at strictly college production, there’s no doubt Blackshear would be the best player Kentucky could get.
However, you probably know by now that there’s a real chance Blackshear remains in the draft.
As it turns out, Kentucky is in pretty good shape for the Virginia Tech grad transfer if he returns to school, according to Jack Pilgrim of KSR.
If he doesn’t receive the feedback he’s looking for (and he only has two more weeks to figure that out), sources tell KSR that Kentucky is in a great position to land Blackshear this offseason. In fact, before the recent developments of McDaniels, there was serious momentum that the Wildcats could have landed all three of McDaniels, Blackshear Jr., and Johnny Juzang to close out the class of 2019.
At this point, you have to think Blackshear will take his stay-or-go decision close to the withdrawal deadline on May 29th. And it’s not a stretch to think Kentucky missing on McDaniels and/or losing Montgomery to the draft could make it even harder for Blackshear to pass on playing for John Calipari.
Speaking of Montgomery, KSR reports that he could be swayed to remain in the draft if he gets a specific type of guarantee from an NBA team.
To take it a step further, KSR’s Matt Jones said last night that a team guaranteeing a two-year deal in the second round would likely sway him (Montgomery) to leave.
When Montgomery initially declared for the draft, this was the statement he put out in terms of what it would take to keep him in the draft:
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.
As it stands, there’s very little-to-no chance Montgomery is a first-round pick. But wanting to be a first-round pick isn’t necessarily because players want to be known as one of the first 30 players taken in a draft.
It’s because of the guarantees a first-round pick holds, as it gives them at least two seasons of guaranteed pay. Montgomery probably realized he doesn’t need to be a first-rounder to get at least a partially guaranteed contract.
If you recall, Tyler Ulis ended up getting two years of his rookie contract guaranteed, but he was an early second-round pick. If Montgomery gets drafted, it likely will be very late in the draft when teams are more unwilling to guarantee multiple seasons.
You’ve also got the fact that a lot of late second-rounders end up getting waived and sent to the G-League or sign a two-way contract that doesn’t include guarantees for a second season (and two-way players don’t exactly make bank either).
Of course, it only takes one team to like you. But after not being invited to the NBA Combine or G-League Combine, it looks like Montgomery is facing a big uphill climb just to find one team that will commit to what he wants.