Kentucky landed a commitment from five star prospect E.J. Montgomery on Monday. Montgomery, the top remaining power forward in the ESPN 100, chose the Wildcats over Duke, North Carolina and Vanderbilt. Here's a look at what he'll bring to Lexington.
Why he committed: Montgomery originally committed to Auburn but when the FBI investigation played out in the fall and Tigers' assistant coach Chuck Person was arrested, he decided to decommit and explore other options.
Every kid's dream is to make the NBA and Kentucky under John Calipari has been the trendsetter in that department. Montgomery has NBA potential and was looking for a place that would push him to the goal.
"Coach Cal’s track record of guys going to the NBA is hard to compare against," Montgomery's travel team director, Hulio Smith, told ESPN.com. "Calipari explained to him how hard it was going to be at Kentucky and how demanding the process was going to be. He told E.J. what he needed to hear and not what he wanted to hear, and he was looking for that."
What he brings: Montgomery is an extra-long, versatile athletic forward who continues to improve this game. As a freshmen, Montgomery played varsity basketball and competed up for the well-known Atlanta Celtics on the summer travel circuit. That experience put him on the map but he also hit a point where the physicality of the game became a little too much. Naturally, he will continue to fill out his body, but his skill and soft scoring touch have always been there. His jumper from mid-range is tough to stop because he can see over any defender and he has worked on his range to be more than capable from the beyond the three point line. With his thin frame he does not go deep into the low post, but he does go to the mid-post and uses his skill to get buckets. He is exceptionally good at blocking shots, rebounding and pushing the ball with control up the floor which creates problems for a defense. He is too fluid and skilled for opposing slower bigs and he extends over small defenders. He will be a scouting report problem for opposing defenses.
How he fits: If Calipari could play a team of versatile bigs and play all man-to-man, he would. Montgomery gives Kentucky a great switch defender at the three through five positions as he has quick enough feet to guard on the perimeter and a center’s length to protect the basket. Kentucky can utilize his skill set in a ball screen-and-pop scenario, at the elbows and in the post as a scoring threat or a passer. With most of the returning roster in place, Montgomery blends in with P.J. Washington, Nick Richards, Jarred Vanderbilt, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Wenyen Gabriel to give Kentucky an extremely athletic and potent frontcourt. Montgomery gives the Wildcats super length and depth next season.
Who he reminds us of: Former Kentucky great and NBA player Tayshaun Prince comes to mind. Both are more finesse than physical and both bring a length to the game that can influence it on both ends of the floor. Their body types and skill sets are very similar at the same stage. Montgomery is 6-foot-10 and still growing so he will be able to pack plenty of muscle on his thin frame.
How this class is shaping up: The Wildcats are ranked No. 4 in ESPN.com's class rankings but will see a bump with Montgomery's commitment. He will join a trio of perimeter players in Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro who will bring backcourt firepower to Lexington. Calipari is never idle when it comes to recruiting. Recently, he was doing an in-home visit with Ashton Hagans who is one of the top point guards in the class of 2019. Hagans' father Marvin recently told ESPN.com that his son is exploring the possibility of reclassifying up to 2018.