Kentucky's Montgomery completes starters' exit for NBA draft

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Kentucky forward EJ Montgomery (23) grabs a rebound against Texas A&M during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky forward EJ Montgomery will enter the NBA draft and forego his remaining collegiate eligibility, completing an exodus of Wildcat starters for the pro ranks.

The 6-foot-10 sophomore averaged career highs of 6.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game with 31 blocks last season. Montgomery ranked second on the team in the latter two categories and started 25 of 28 contests. His late tip-in basket lifted Kentucky past Florida 71-70 in the regular season finale before the postseason was cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fort Pierce, Florida, native returned to school last season after going through the NBA draft evaluation process and thanked Kentucky coach John Calipari and his staff for challenging him to ''become a better all-around player'' following his freshman season in which he averaged 4.1 boards and 3.8 points.

The Hall of Fame coach praised Montgomery's progress in a release Wednesday and said with his perimeter skills, athleticism and shot-blocking ability, ''someone is going to get a big-time prospect with EJ.'' Montgomery follows pro announcements by fellow forward Nick Richards and guards Immanuel Quickley, Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey.

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