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NBA executives talk Kentucky players’ decision to declare, criticize EJ for leaving

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The entire Kentucky starting five is headed out, but that doesn’t mean they’ll all be drafted.

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Five Kentucky Wildcats will be taking their talents to the next level in the next few months.

The only one that is a surefire draft pick is potential star Tyrese Maxey. After an up-and-down season, Maxey has drawn rave reviews from some of the top basketball minds, oftentimes being pegged as a future lottery pick.

However, despite stronger performances from some of his teammates this past season, he’s really the only player guaranteed to be drafted.

Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, EJ Montgomery, and Nick Richards all also declared. A few may regret their decision, but with an elite inbound class, who knows what their future minutes may look like.

When it comes to these prospects, most aren’t high on all five. Hagans draws praise for his defensive and shooting but takes a step back as far as sky-high potential is concerned.

As for Quickley, he’s solid, but he undersized and truly has only shown NBA flashes for a few months. The last two big men could’ve both stayed, but it will be EJ Montgomery that could look back with the regret, potentially not even a top-100 player.

That said, let’s dive into what the NBA executives had to say about it. According to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, here are exact quotes from executives examining the decisions from these young Wildcats.

Ashton Hagans

“I think he’s a first-rounder, in the 20s. He’s got to get better with his shot, but he’s such a great on-ball defender.”

Immanuel Quickley

“He had a great second half of the year. He’s an undersized two-guard, and unless he was going to play the point next season at Kentucky, he should leave now. I think he goes somewhere in the second round.”

Nick Richards

“This is an easy one. Even though he’s a second-rounder, he needs to go. He played well and went from undrafted to being drafted. He can’t lose that momentum.”

EJ Montgomery

“We don’t even have him in our Top 100. I have no clue what he’s thinking.”