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Nick Richards becomes fourth Kentucky player to declare for NBA draft

Tennessee v Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - MARCH 03: Nick Richards #4 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball against against the Tennessee Volunteers at Rupp Arena on March 03, 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky forward Nick Richards will enter the NBA draft and forego his final season of collegiate eligibility by signing with an agency.

The 6-foot-11 junior is the fourth Wildcats starter to turn pro. He’s coming off a breakout season in which he was named a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection by The Associated Press and league coaches. His per-game scoring average increased 10 points from his sophomore season to 14.0 while starting 30 of 31 contests to help the Wildcats (25-6) earn the SEC regular season title before the postseason was canceled because of coronavirus concerns.

Richards also ranked fourth nationally in shooting at 64% and made the SEC all-defensive squad with averages of 7.8 rebounds and 2.13 blocks per game.

Richards is projected as a late second-round pick, if he’s drafted at all.

Richards, from Kingston, Jamaica, thanked Kentucky coaches and teammates for his steady improvement in a release on Tuesday. He said it’s time to pursue his ultimate dream of being an NBA player and added, “I’m prepared for this step because of my time at Kentucky.”

Richards’ announcement comes a day after leading scorer Immanuel Quickley declared for the draft. Guards Ashton Hagans on Sunday and Tyrese Maxey turned pro last week.