LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) — Kentucky men’s basketball sophomore forward EJ Montgomery continued the trend of Wildcats earning selection to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame preseason watch lists for a positional award. Montgomery is among 20 players on the watch list for the 2020 Karl Malone Award, presented to the nation’s best power forward.
Montgomery is one of three players from the Southeastern Conference on the list. He is joined by LSU’s Trendon Watford and Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry.
Named after Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Karl Malone, this year’s award will be presented at the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show in April. The award is in its sixth year of existence and UK has yet to have a winner named the best power forward.
Montgomery, a preseason All-SEC Second Team pick, elected to return for his sophomore season after considering a jump to the pro ranks following positive feedback from the NBA. He appeared in all 37 games for the Wildcats during his freshman season, including making 10 starts. He started in nine of UK’s final 11 games and the Wildcats were 9-1 during that stretch.
The native of Fort Pierce, Florida, is UK’s leading returning rebounder at 4.1 boards per game. He also averaged 3.8 points per game and shot with a 48% rate from the field. His 38 blocks ranked third on the team and led the team in the category in 14 games. Montgomery’s best game of the season came with career highs in points (11) and rebounds (13) in a win over South Carolina. He also snared 11 boards in his NCAA Tournament debut against Abilene Christian.
By mid-February, the watch list will be trimmed to 10 players. Five finalists will be revealed in March with the winner being announced during the annual ESPN College Basketball Awards show on April 10. New this season, fan voting will be a part of all three rounds of voting before a winner is announced.
Montgomery is the fourth Wildcat to make a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame preseason positional watch list. Earlier this week, sophomore guard Ashton Hagans was named to the Hall of Fame’s Bob Cousy Award watch list (nations’ top point guard), freshman guard Tyrese Maxey landed on the Jerry West Award watch list (nation’s top shooting guard) and freshman forward Kahlil Whitney made the Julius Erving Award watch list (nation’s top small forward).
Kentucky is slated to begin exhibition play beginning with its annual Blue-White Game on Friday. That game will air live on the SEC Network at 7 p.m. UK will follow that with two tune-ups against Georgetown College on Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. and Kentucky State on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. Both games will air live on SEC Network. The Wildcats open the regular season in New York for the State Farm Champions Classic. They will face Michigan State at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.
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