Kentucky returnees; EJ Montgomery, Ashton Hagans, Nick Richards and Immanuel Quickley spoke to the local media for the first time after announcing that they were coming back for another year for Kentucky.

EJ Montgomery

Ashton Hagans

Nick Richards 

Immanuel Quickley 

 

Quotes from UK Athletics 
#23, EJ Montgomery, So., F

EJ Montgomery. Photo by Zeke Lewis

On his reasons to come back and if one of them was building his strength …
“Yeah, that was probably one of the main reasons, just my physical part, my body. I went out there (for the workouts) and showed I can do a lot of things, but they just want to see that I can go out there and play with the physical guys.”

On the positive feedback he got in the NBA workouts …
“They just said I did good. I shot it well. I can stretch the floor and things like that.”

On if PJ Washington’s improvement from his freshman season to his sophomore season played a factor in coming back …

“It did once I heard where I would land in the draft and if I came back I would work hard every day just like he did and try to improve my stock.”

On how it feels to be one of the old guys and leaders now …
“It’s definitely weird but you have to learn fast here. It’s different. You just have to take that role.”

On how he let the team know he would be returning …

“We have a group text with the team. I just let them know, put it out there that we’re getting back to business, we’ve got another year.”

On how he dealt with limited minutes last season … 

“Just with great teammates and a great support system. They always kept my head up and things like that. If I had a bad day, we always just kept each other up. Working in the gym every day, that’s the way I got through it.”

On coming back to a much larger role …

“I have to work for everything. It’s not going to be given to me, so I’m just going to stay in the gym.”

On the possibility of more pieces being added to the roster …

“Whatever Coach Cal thinks we need. If he thinks we need more people or if we don’t, we got to go out there and compete.”

#0, Ashton Hagans, So., G

On John Calipari saying he will have a breakthrough season …

Ashton Hagans. Photo by Zeke Lewis

“I feel really good about it. You know, I’m just here to work. Ups and downs last season in my game, so now that I know what I need to do, watch film, things like that, I just got to come in here and show the guys that I’m ready and ready to be a leader.”

On what he wants to work on …

“Getting stronger, finishing at the rim, more explosive, working on my shot, but that’s really the things that I need to do and work on in the offseason, and that’s really what I’ve been working on this offseason. But, like I said, just ready to get back to work.”

On struggling to finish at the rim at times …

“Sometimes it doesn’t happen, but you just got to move on and go with the next play. It’s basketball and things will happen, so you’ve got to keep your head up and keep going.”

On working on finishing at the rim …

“I was in the gym, so missing a layup, can’t do too much but just come back and get back in the gym and work on what I messed up on, but like I said, it’s another year and just try to come back and get better.”

On hearing that EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards were coming back …

“I wasn’t even on my phone when I heard they were coming back, and then somebody – I forgot where I was – somebody said, ‘EJ and Nick are coming back.’ My eyes just got big. It’s less stress on my shoulders having those two come back, but I’m just glad to have these guys back and another group that’s coming in, and we’ve got great talent coming in, so let’s try and be special with this group.”

On Tyrese Maxey …

“He’s a really good guard. He’s going to be a nice guard to play with. We’re going to have some great memories on the court. Might be one of the best backcourts you all ever see, but we’re going to see.”

On how Maxey and his game’s complement each other …

“Tyrese does a lot with his game, and I feel like I can do the same, but he plays defense, so that’s something that’s going to be a scary sight for other teams. We’re just ready to go out there and play with each other.”

#4, Nick Richards, Jr., F

On what led to his decision to return …

Nick Richards. Photo by Zeke Lewis

“We were talking about trying to be a better basketball player, that’s why. That’s one of the reasons I came to this school is to improve on my basketball skills and get ready for the next level. I thought that coming back for an extra year would just benefit that.” 

On what sort of feedback he received …

“The main thing they were concerned about was me being more consistent. Everybody knows my game. They know what I can do. They wanted to know if I can bring it every single night. They wanted to know if I can do it in the NBA and hopefully do it for 82 games straight.”

On why he believes he hasn’t been consistent …

“It’s just one of those things I have to develop into. Coach just talks about me getting into the gym and working out the same things over and over again. Hopefully one day it just clicks on the basketball court.” 

On how old he was when he first started playing and why it was so late …

“It was probably around 15 years old. Where I grew up in Jamaica, basketball is not really the common sport. It’s more about, we call it football, but in America they call it soccer. Cricket, track and field. I even did volleyball before. So, I was playing sports like that.”

On what drew him to basketball …

“Obviously I wanted to play basketball when I was younger, so played basketball close to when I got to 15 in the summertime. I came to America just to visit my grandmother and ended up on a summer league basketball team in New York. A basketball team saw me and offered me a scholarship to play for them.” 

On if the decision was difficult or easy to come back to UK …

“The decision was probably easier. I knew that I would be coming back. The goal is this year is just to be a better player both on and off of the court.”

On how he feels about his basketball instincts …

“I’m just going out there and take it day by day. I’m trying to show everyone what kind of player I am and show everybody I love the game of basketball. Just try to move forward from there.”

On how Coach Cal has challenged him since being back …

“He’s driving me to be one of the best players in the country. Trying to make me one of the best big men in the country, and I am up for the challenge. It’s not that hard for me to play basketball; it’s the sport I love to do. There’s not pressure towards it. Just taking it day by day and show him what I can do.”

#5, Immanuel Quickley, So., G

On now being a veteran … 

Immanuel Quickley Photo by Zeke Lewis

“It feels good. I wouldn’t say I’m old, but definitely one of the veterans on the team now, so I’m ready to take on that leadership role.”

On early impressions of this team versus last year’s … 

“We’ve really just been playing pick-up. The team’s very talented individually. I think we’ll get better just like every Kentucky team as the season goes on. Hopefully we’ll build towards March once again.”

On why he made the decision to return so quickly … 

“I kind of knew what I wanted to do. I was focused, working on getting better this summer, so I didn’t want to waste any time playing around with the process or anything.”

On what it’s like being a sophomore knowing new competition is coming in … 

“It should be good. You know, ready to compete. That’s why you come to Kentucky: to play against the best. Pick-up’s been really good. Hopefully practice will be even better and just getting the best out of each other.”

On versatility in the backcourt … 

“I think really versatile. All of us do different things, but we also do a lot of the same things as well.  Ashton defense, getting to the rack. Tyrese in pick-up games, he’s really athletic, can get in the lane, can shoot as well, kind of like myself. So I think we’ll be able to do a lot of different things.”

On talking with Hagans about returning … 

“I talked to Ashton a little bit, but it was kind of me and Coach Cal. We had talked about it, and that’s just kind of the decision we came up with.”

On whether he’s seen leadership improvements from Hagans … 

“Yeah, no doubt. Me and Ashton definitely, even Nick and EJ, just have to take a different role. It kind of happens so fast just like that, going from learning as a freshman to being a sophomore teaching the young guys so it’s definitely going to be different.”

On how he found out Montgomery was returning … 

“He told us before anybody else. I think I found out that morning and he told everybody else that evening on Snapchat. We were all laughing but we were all happy. He said something funny. But it’s just good for him to be back.”

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