LEXINGTON, Ky. — John Calipari prefers to wait until he’s done loading up on talent to announce his signing class, that way he can dote on the whole group at once, but this is a weird year and the roster might not be set for a while longer. So on Monday, Kentucky went ahead and made the signing of 5-star big man EJ Montgomery official.
Calipari raved about the 6-foot-10 McDonald’s All-American, a former Auburn commit who averaged 25.6 points, 13.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga., last season.
“I hope our fans understand just how good EJ is and how excited we are to have him,” Calipari said in a UK-issued released. “You’re talking about a skilled big man who can affect the game in a number of ways. EJ is the type of position-less player the game is moving towards. He can play just about anywhere and make plays on the perimeter with his skills and versatility, yet he’s got the length and the ability to finish in the post as well as anyone in this class.
“What I love about him is he models his game after Anthony Davis, one of the best we’ve ever had, but wants to be his own player and carve out his legacy.”
Montgomery is ranked as high as No. 6 overall in the Class of 2018 and is No. 9 in the 247Sports composite. He joins the Wildcats’ three fall signees: No. 11 Keldon Johnson (small forward), No. 20 Immanuel Quickley (point guard) and No. 35 Tyler Herro (shooting guard).
Kentucky also has a commitment from Ashton Hagans, the No. 1 point guard in the Class of 2019, who is widely expected to reclassify and play for Kentucky this season — but that decision won’t be made official until July. The Cats could also still add another player, either a recruit or graduate transfer to the 2018-19 roster.
With so much in flux, Calipari didn’t want to wait to gush about a player he told, “You’re not a want, you’re a need” while recruiting him.
“My goals for picking a school was to find a program that could push me as a player to reach my dream and as a person to grow; a school that made sure me and my family’s dreams became their dreams and that would push me to be my best. I’ve found that with Coach Cal and the University of Kentucky,” Montgomery said in the school-issued release Monday. “I’m proud to be a part of the Big Blue Nation where the standard is excellence, which is what my mother and father have instilled in me.”
Kentucky has now signed 48 top-50 recruits, 41 top-25 players and 23 top-10 players in Calipari’s 10 recruiting classes. Each of those classes has been ranked No. 1 or 2 nationally by 247Sports, which as the 2018 haul at No. 2 — for now.