John Calipari: EJ Montgomery was the difference against Florida
If former Kentucky All-American Tony Delk’s judgment is correct, would-be UK standout EJ Montgomery will forgo college and remain in this year’s NBA Draft.
“I think he’s staying in,” Delk said of Montgomery on Friday night. “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.”
Delk, who said he is serving as a consultant, said Montgomery’s departure to the NBA is not a 100-percent certainty.
A key factor comes Tuesday when Montgomery is scheduled to participate in a “Pro Day” in Santa Monica, Calif., staged by Wasserman, a sports marketing and talent management company formerly known as Wasserman Media Group.
“A lot of GMs will be there,” Delk said. “I think that will be the determining factor. They’ll get a chance to see him up close with other guys, and see how his shooting is, see how his lateral movement is, see how his ball-handling skills are.”
The NCAA’s deadline for players to withdraw from this year’s NBA Draft and retain college eligibility is at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. Besides Montgomery, UK will also be awaiting word on Nick Richards’ basketball plans.
“I’d love to see him go back” to UK, Delk said of Montgomery. “If he goes back, I think he’ll be much better next year. He has a lot of skills he can improve upon.
“But also with his athleticism, he brings a lot to the table, too, looking at his potential.”
Montgomery’s numbers as a freshman this past season were similar to those of Daniel Orton. The latter played a reserve role as a freshman in 2009-10 before deciding to stay in the 2010 NBA Draft. He was taken by the Orlando Magic with the next-to-last pick of the first round.
Montgomery, a 6-foot-10 forward from Fort Pierce, Fla., averaged 15.1 minutes, 3.8 points and 4.1 rebounds this past season. Orton, a 6-10 player from Oklahoma City, Okla., averaged 13.2 minutes, 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in his freshman season for UK.
When asked if Montgomery would want assurance of being a first-round pick before committing to staying in this year’s NBA Draft, Delk said, “I don’t think so.”
Delk suggested that being a freshman works in Montgomery’s favor. “Most times, they’ll take a chance on a young kid,” Delk said of NBA teams. Montgomery, 19, does not turn 20 until September. “If he was like a junior or senior, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”
Being left-handed “gives him a little edge,” Delk added.
“I’ve talked to him and I’ve talked to (his) mom and dad. Gave them words of encouragement and words of wisdom. It seems like it’s a him-decision. I told him, ‘You don’t make a decision for your parents. This is your life. You have to, hopefully, make the right decision. Also knowing it’s a learning process. You’re still young. There’s a lot to learn. Hopefully, if he stays in, he gets drafted by the right organization.”