In the newest edition of the Meet the Wildcats Series on PJ Washington, he admitted that he’d been a UK fan ever since John Wall and John Calipari came to Kentucky.
That was the year that the Kentucky Wildcats vaulted back into the stratosphere of college basketball, and it left a major impression on young players across the country.
Since then, Washington has been looking forward to wearing that Kentucky blue, which becomes a reality this fall.
Ever since John Wall suited up for the Wildcats during head coach John Calipari’s first season at Kentucky in 2009-10, Washington has dreamed of rocking that Kentucky blue.
“I really didn’t feel like I could go to any other school just because Kentucky is my favorite school and my dream school,” Washington said in an exclusive interview with CoachCal.com. “Just growing up, I tried to work my hardest every day in the gym. Just grind, get better. And then once I got the offer, I knew I was going there.”
Washington has the build of a power forward, but he has the versatility of a smaller player, which makes him a difficult matchup. He was joined in the 2017 class by similar players like Jarred Vanderbilt and Kevin Knox, but out of the three of them, Washington is the guy you want down on the block battling the big fellas.
Washington was kind of the forgotten man in the 2017 class until he reminded us all why he was a five star, top 20 prospect, and McDonald’s All American during his stay in Egypt.
In the U19 tournament, Washington was the best player of Cal’s team and one of the best players in the entire tourney. His athleticism, rebounding, and consistency on offense could possibly replace what Bam Adebayo brought to last year’s team.
While Washington isn’t as big as Bam, he is a guy that could still play the center position if he had to. But, he’s more of a natural power forward, a position that most assume will be manned by Wenyen Gabriel for most of the season.
I wouldn’t count Washington out of the starting spot. He has a tenacity and competitive spirit that will push Gabriel for playing time:
Upon signing his letter of intent in November, Coach Cal called Washington an “alpha dog,” and said he’s a combination of former UK wings Trey Lyles and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is arguably the toughest, grittiest player of the Calipari era.
If Washington is anything like Lyles or MKG, then it’s going to be hard keeping him on the bench.