By LARRY VAUGHT
Even though most were speculating that Georgia forward E.J. Montgomery was going to pick Duke over Kentucky and others, Rivals.com writer Dan McDonald (@DMcDonaldsRivals on Twitter) was not surprised when he signed with John Calipari and Kentucky.
“I had been tipped off by a source close to him a couple weeks ahead of time that Kentucky had the edge over Duke and UNC (North Carolina). I think his experience at the McDonald’s All-American Game finished it off,” McDonald said.
Kentucky signees Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickley played in the McDonald’s All-American Game and spent considerable time with Montgomery — as did Duke’s four signees. What might have sold him on UK was the need for a 6-9 player with his skills.
“I like his athleticism and his soft touch around the rim best. He’s really fast up and down the court and quick off his feet,” McDonald said. “In the past, I questioned his toughness. He always floated around the perimeter too much for me.
“I thought he made great strides this high school season in playing harder, being tougher, and playing more in the paint. I give a lot of credit to his high school coach Larry Thompson, who I think really pushed him and challenged him. To his credit, he took to the coaching and is a better player now for it.”
McDonald said the next step for Montgomery is to become an even better perimeter shooter to make his overall game even better.
“He’s become a much more dominant post player in the past year, so now I’d like to see him round out his game and polish up his shot to where he can hit jumpers more consistently,” McDonald said. “I’d like for him to become more of an inside-outside threat.”
He showed he has the potential to do that during the McDonald’s All-American Game practices when his play — along with his physical appearance — reminded UK fans of former UK All-American Tayshaun Prince. His personality might even remind UK fans of Prince, who went on to a successful NBA career.
“He’s definitely a more reserved personality. He’s a quiet kid off the court, but I think he has a goofy side, too,” McDonald said. “He’s a really good kid from everything my own experiences and everything I’ve heard. It carries over onto the court, too. I think it’s out of his comfort zone to show a mean streak, but don’t mistake that for a lack of competitiveness. He’s just a more even-keeled kind of kid.
“I think Kentucky fans will appreciate the fact he’s a low key, low maintenance type of kid and player. He’ll understand his role, play it, and he’ll take well to the way Kentucky’s coaching staff tries to coach him.”