The 6-foot-10 forward opted to to return next season after previously declaring for the NBA Draft and gives the Wildcats another key player in the post. Nick Richards announced Tuesday that he would be back next season, giving the Wildcats four returnees, including guards Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley, on next year’s roster.
Montgomery is eager to build on his freshman campaign. He started nine of the last 11 games of the season and the Wildcats finished 9-1 with Montgomery in the starting lineup. He averaged 3.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and tallied 11 rebounds in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament against Abilene Christian.
“I enjoyed putting on a Kentucky uniform with my brothers and playing in front of the best fans in the nation,” Montgomery said. “I appreciate your support for me and my teammates this season. I want to say thanks for coach (John Calipari), coach (Kenny Payne), coach Joel (Justus), coach (John) Robic and coach (Tony) Barbee for pushing me every single day to be the best I can be on and off the court. I got to compete against the best of the best every day in practice. We had a good season on the court because of our love for the grind. I'm proud of what we accomplished together. BBN, I’m back. Year 2.”
Calipari supported Montgomery’s decision to come back next season.
“I know this was a tough decision for EJ and his family because of the positive feedback he received throughout this process,” Calipari said. “EJ improved so much during the season and I know how much he wants to show our fans what he can do with another year.
“I’m thrilled to be able to continue to coach EJ. He has a special skill set and he’s only begun to scratch the surface of his potential. EJ knows how hard this is going to be, and I know he’s ready to embrace the grind and do everything he can for this team while continuing to develop into the best version of himself.”
Kentucky’s home-and-home Southeastern Conference schedule was released Wednesday and the Wildcats will play Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Vanderbilt both home and away. Auburn competed in the Final Four last season, while Vanderbilt features first-year coach Jerry Stackhouse.
The additional home games are against Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Missouri, with road games at Arkansas, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M.
The non-conference schedule includes Michigan State at Madison Square Garden (Nov. 5), Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 8), Evansville (Nov. 12), Utah in Las Vegas (Dec. 18) and Ohio State in Las Vegas (Dec. 21).
Calipari, speaking during the SEC meetings in Sandestin, Florida, hinted that the Wildcats could play a regular-season game in London during the 2020-21 season.