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Two 5-star prospects, Montgomery, Hagans commit to Calipari, Wildcats

Kentucky coach John Calipari received commitments from two 5-star recruits this week. E.J. Montgomery and Ashton Hagans announced plans to attend UK during the past two days. (Kentucky Today/Keith Taylor)

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Although Kentucky’s roster has dwindled significantly in less than a week, Kentucky coach John Calipari is reloading for next season and perhaps beyond.

On Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours after point-guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander announced his intentions to enter the NBA Draft and hire an agent, the Wildcats received a commitment from 5-star prospect Ashton Hagans, the top point guard in the 2019 class.

“BBN, have you enjoyed breakfast the last couple days?” Calipari tweeted. “We like to be transparent at Kentucky, but let me say this: No one truly knows what we are doing until it’s done. Finished yet?”

Hagans told 247Sports that Kentucky was his top destination.

“It’s my dream school and I feel like I can get the job done there,” he said.

Hagans is expected to reclassify to the Class of 2018 and join the Wildcats next season, helping fill the void vacated by Gilgeous-Alexander. Hagans, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Covington, Georgia, reopened his commitment weeks before Mark Fox was fired at the University of Georgia.

“He’s a beast,” Fox told ESPN. “He’s bigger and more powerful than anybody at his position. He gets to the rim and can finish, and is an excellent and instinctive passer. (He is also) a great kid.”

On Monday, E.J. Montgomery, also a 5-star recruit, announced his plans to attend Kentucky. Montgomery originally committed to Auburn, but reopened his recruited after the FBI investigation broke last fall. Montgomery chose the Wildcats over Vanderbilt and Duke.

“He wanted to be in a winning program and be pushed every day,” Montgomery’s high school, coach Larry Thompson, told SEC Country. “The thing that pushed E.J. over the edge was the track record with coach Cal and some of those higher guys he was able to recruit and develop,” Thompson said. “They spoke a little bit about (Anthony Davis). He’s a kid that was shorter and had great ball-handling ability, then grew. E.J. is kind of in the same mold. [Kentucky’s staff] mentioned it and that’s one of the comparisons E.J. made himself, that he kind of patterns his game after AD.”

Montgomery joins Hagans, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro as part of Kentucky’s incoming class next season.

On Tuesday, junior Dillon Pulliam, a walk-on with the Wildcats during the past three seasons, announced his plans to enroll in the Carnegie Mellon master’s program after graduating with a bachelor degree in computer engineering and computer science.

“Before I say anything, I’d first like to thank God for all he’s done for me over the past three years,” Pulliam said. “When you put your faith in him, it really is amazing the doors he will open for you. As a kid, I always dreamed of playing basketball in college. Having the chance to do that at UK has been life changing and has made these years some of the best of my life. The friendships and memories I’ve made are something I will carry with me forever and they have made all the hard work worth it.”

During the past two weeks, Tai Wynyard and Sacha Killeya-Jones have been released from their scholarships, while Kevin Knox and Gilgeous-Alexander have declared for the NBA Draft, with plans to hire an agent. PJ Washington also has opted for the Draft, but isn’t hiring an agent, leaving the door open for a possible return next season.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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