The process of waiting for NBA Draft decisions ends today, as the deadline to withdraw and maintain amateur status for the NCAA is tonight at 11:59 p.m. ET.
For Kentucky fans, there are two names to keep an eye on.
The first (obviously) is EJ Montgomery, the 6’10” forward who averaged 15 minutes per game as a freshman where he averaged around 4 points and 4 rebounds per game.
When Montgomery initially entered the draft, many thought he was just testing the waters and almost certainly would return back to Kentucky, where he would expect to be one of the top frontcourt options as a sophomore on a Final Four contender. Many, including myself, expect Montgomery—if he returns to Kentucky—to make a major leap forward as a sophomore.
But Montgomery has continued working out with teams, presumably in hopes of getting a promise of a guaranteed contract in the second round. He’s been working out with UK legend Tony Delk, who recently stated he thinks Montgomery stays in the draft.
Losing Montgomery would be an obvious blow, as many expected he would be back for a sophomore season, but right now, it seems to be a complete toss-up on what Montgomery will choose to do.
If Montgomery leaves, Kentucky’s next target is a player making his own decision to stay in college or remain in the NBA Draft. Kentucky has been pursuing former Virginia Tech big man Kerry Blackshear the last few months, while Blackshear has been pursuing the NBA.
Blackshear announced that he would test the NBA Draft waters, but if he comes back to college, he will do so as a graduate transfer. Blackshear is arguably the best transfer on the market if he comes back to college.
At Kentucky, he would be an immediate plug-and-play guy. If Montgomery leaves, he would join a frontcourt that includes junior Nick Richards and senior grad transfer Nate Sestina. It would by far be the most experienced front court that Kentucky has had under John Calipari and Blackshear would have a clear path for minutes and a likely starting job.
But the reports have stated that Blackshear is leaning towards turning pro, even willing to spend time in the G-League to chase his professional dream as opposed to coming back to college at a new program.
Kentucky really needs to have either Montgomery or Blackshear on the roster next season, in my opinion, but there is a pretty good chance that both decide to remain in the draft today, and Kentucky will be forced to look at other options to fill out the frontcourt for the 2019-2020 season.
Stay tuned here and we will bring you NBA Draft Decision news throughout the day.
Tweet of the Day
It's official: @iamnickrichards is withdrawing his name from the 2019 @NBADraft and is headed back to Kentucky.— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) May 28, 2019
We can't wait to get back to work with #⃣4⃣
➡️ https://t.co/pR6W5GfZrX pic.twitter.com/Thji8dG4Fw
I’m really expecting a big leap from Richards in year 3.
Nick Richards joins rare company by returning to Kentucky - Herald Leader
Richards hopes to make a Willie Cauley-Stein like jump as a junior.
Five reasons to be excited for Junior Nick Richards - KSR
Richards coming back was a need and he could make a big leap.
How draft decisions are affecting Kentucky’s foes - KSR
Other teams, particularly Tennessee, have been hit hard by players leaving.
Kentucky among the teams pursuing Cade Cunningham - Cats Pause
The 6’6 guard has had a great summer thus far.
Former UofL coach Denny Crum released from hospital - Courier Journal
Some good news as Crum continues to recover from a health scare.
An inside look at the LA Lakers - ESPN
What a mess in Los Angeles.
Which stars could Anthony Davis team up with in a trade? - Bleacher Report
Could AD join Kyrie and Kevin Durant in New York?
Could Brooklyn be a potential suitor for AD? - The Ringer
Brooklyn hasn’t been mentioned among the top possibilities.
LSU’s Will Wade evades questions about scandal - Yahoo
Wade didn’t offer up much on the situation, as expected.
Adam Silver floating idea of tournaments to determine playoff berths - SI
Silver is floating some unique ideas similar to European soccer models.