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EJ Montgomery NBA Draft Roundtable and Predictions

Will we see Sophomore EJ Montgomery, or is he set on going pro?

Abilene Christian v Kentucky Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It’s almost May 29th, which means that a decision from EJ Montgomery on whether he’s staying in the draft or coming back to school must come very soon.

Montgomery was a highly touted recruit when he joined the Kentucky Wildcats as the ninth-ranked recruit in the 2018 class.

A lot of people expected EJ to come in and make an immediate impact much like others before him at Kentucky. However, it didn’t quite work out that way.

The play of PJ Washington and Reid Travis hindered what EJ could do. Then, when Montgomery got his opportunities to shine during Reid’s and PJ’s injury, he didn’t do much with them.

Now, we all know that the NBA drafts on potential and boy does EJ have that. He stands at 6-10 and weighs in at 225 pounds. He’s a quick big who can also step out and shoot the three. While he didn’t do that great of a job of it this season, his mechanics are there and with more game time, he will knock down those shots.

With that being said, we haven’t seen his name pop up on any mock drafts or big boards. Let’s also not forget that when he announced, his desire was a first-round pick, though the belief now is he just wants a guaranteed contract.

Today is actually a big day for Montgomery, as he’s holding his own pro day in California in what’s seemingly his last chance to convince NBA personnel he’s worth a draft pick and/or guaranteed contract.

So, we got together as a team and have given our predictions as to whether or not EJ is staying in the draft or coming back to school:

Tj Barnett:

EJ Montgomery has all the tools necessary to become a fantastic NBA player. He’s tall, lengthy, can defend the rim, and can step outside and hit shots. He’s everything you want in a position-less NBA. While he didn’t get the minutes this year that we all expected, you can’t deny his potential.

As for his decision, I think he does come back for his sophomore season. His initial desire was a first round pick and that is simply not going to happen.

He went through the process, got feedback, and I believe now he’s ready to come back to school and prove himself to the league. This will give Kentucky a great second year player who’s clearly eager to show what he can do for an NBA team in the future.

Prediction: Returns to Kentucky

Adam Haste

EJ Montgomery showed a lot of promising things in his freshman campaign, as he showed how good of a rebounder he was and that he can be a reliable shot blocker.

In my opinion, if EJ decides to return, he has the most potential to make a huge jump from freshman to sophomore year. He has all the tools to be a great player, he just couldn’t get his shot down last year, causing him to struggle offensively.

But everything else that he brought to the table has me hoping we get to see a second year in Lexington.

The longer this decision goes, the more uneasy I get about his return, and it has me worried he may leave for the NBA.

And that is what I believe he is going to do.

Prediction: Stays in the NBA Draft

Nick Wheatley

EJ Montgomery is pivotal to Kentucky’s success next season, as the Cats are extremely thin in the front court. And he’d fit in perfectly as he can rebound and stretch the floor.

I think EJ will take a huge step forward next year, but his return is far from a sure thing. Whether or not Montgomery will be back for a second season in Lexington remains to be seen, and I’m not sure anyone’s confident either way.

But if he does return, I think he will improve similar to PJ Washington. They’re different players, but EJ’s potential is through the roof. People forget he was the highest-ranked recruit in the 2018 class, ahead of Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro.

Not to mention, EJ was able to develop in year one under Reid Travis and PJ Washington. Kentucky freshmen don’t normally get to just learn, they’re usually just thrown right in the fire.

But that wasn’t the case here, and it’s also possibly the reason Montgomery’s decision is still up in the air. This would be unfortunate as he’d play 30+ minutes a game next season.

I believe Montgomery will be back for his sophomore season, but I say so without a lot of confidence. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him keep his name in the draft and take his chances. I do think a team would take a flier on him late in the second round, and that might be all he’s looking for to make the jump.

Prediction: Returns to Kentucky

Jason Marcum

Initially, I believed that EJ Montgomery would ultimately decide to return to Kentucky.

But that was before former Wildcat Tony Delk dropped a bit of a bombshell.

“I think he’s staying in,” Delk said last week. “Just from what I’ve been hearing. He’s already had a couple workouts with teams. So I guess he’s got some good reports from GMs.”

That tells me at least one key NBA decision-maker has told Montgomery he’ll either be a second-round pick or get a partially-guaranteed contract. Montgomery wants two full guarantee years, but he’s not done enough to earn such a deal.

However, I think some team will be willing to guarantee him one year and may partially guaranteed the second. With Montgomery seemingly looking for an excuse to go pro, that seems like enough for him to keep his name in the draft.

Today’s pro day may ultimately decide what he does. If he does well, I think it solidifies his decision to remain in the draft. But if he disappoints, it may help sway him to return.

Ultimately, I think he’ll do well today and announce he’s staying in the draft, possibly tonight.

Prediction: Stays in the NBA Draft

Jamie Boggs

EJ Montgomery has the size and skill set to be a quality NBA player for a long time. But after what we saw last season, he certainly needs some refining. His big choice right now is whether to try and refine those skills at Kentucky or in the NBA G-League.

On one hand, he would be making money in the G-League and would not have to worry about classes and NCAA regulations. On the other hand, the lights in Lexington are much brighter than they are on the G-League circuit and his biggest opportunity to raise his stock is at Kentucky.

He could be a monster next season, and with his mobility Kentucky would be one of the most versatile teams we have seen. He instantly makes this group a Final Four Kentucky with his return.

Unfortunately, I feel like the call to the NBA is too much for him to turn down. Someone will take a flier on Montgomery and at least guarantee him a two-way contract. He wants to focus on basketball, and such an opportunity will allow him to do just that.

As much as the Cats need him next season, I think EJ is gone.

Prediction: Stays in the NBA Draft

Sam Gillenwater

EJ Montgomery is an interesting case because he did start to come out of his shell as the season progressed. He earned an even bigger role in the rotation and played important minutes after the injuries to both Reid Travis and PJ Washington.

Just like Nick Richards, Montgomery’s name hasn’t appeared on many mock drafts or big boards. The interest he's drawing is more concerning, though, as he had a team workout with the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday and after working out with Tony Delk, the Kentucky legend thinks Montgomery will stay in this year’s draft.

After averaging 3.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in only 15 minutes a game, it’s easy to see EJ making major improvements and a jump if he were to return to Lexington for his sophomore season, much like PJ Washington did last season.

Even with the potential interest he could be generating right now, I don’t think it will compare to the interest he will get if he returns, improves, and enters his name again next season.

If PJ turned himself into a first round, if not a borderline lottery, pick after a second season, who’s to say EJ can’t do the same with similar improvements?

I think Montgomery will take some more time with his decision, but will eventually opt for a second season at Kentucky to earn a first-round selection.

Prediction: Returns to Kentucky

Shane Shackleford

OK, so I’m a little late for the party. But I made it, so here’s my 10 cents.

I’ve sat back and really thought about Montgomery (and Richards) and where they could stand in the eyes of the NBA executives that will determine their immediate futures. In the case of Montgomery, you have an athletic, young 6-9 or so big man with touch from the outside and the ability to stretch the floor on offense and play around the basket on defense and yet defend the now-common stretch four on defense.

The difference between the two for me is Montgomery is much more comfortable away from the basket and could play both the four and five in the NBA. Montgomery is also a young big who could definitely be taken by a club late in the draft and be stashed away in the G-League to develop or even earn a two-way contract with the parent club.

As much as I would like to see Montgomery back for another season in Lexington, I think he stays in the draft.

Prediction: Stays in the draft

Aaron Gershon

EJ Montgomery checks a lot of the boxes of the typical NBA big-man. He has size, length, and is active on the boards. Though he did not get many minutes and struggled at times during his freshman season, it does not surprise me that he chose to test the waters.

However, one would think that having played with PJ Washington who had a breakout season in his second year at Kentucky playing the same position that Montgomery would do the same.

Well, that doesn’t look like it’ll be the case. Former Kentucky legend Tony Delk who has been training with Montgomery, believes the big-man will stay in the draft and it’s hard not to trust the word of a former Kentucky alum.

Though I personally believe Montgomery would be best off returning to school, all indications are that the Cats will lose the 6-10 forward.

Prediction: Stays in the draft