PJ Washington did not look like himself in Kentucky’s win over Southern Illinois.
The sophomore forward finished with only 3 points and 6 rebounds, but only attempted two shots the entire game and turned the ball over five times. Definitely not the type of performance from a player some pegged as a potential contender for SEC Player of the Year.
However, we may have a better idea of the reason behind Washington’s struggles.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said Washington is still coming back from finger surgery and isn’t confident right now.
“You know what, he’s struggling a little bit. And he’s still -- he had an operation on that hand, and I don’t think right now he’s confident enough yet in that hand. But my thing is, forget the hand, just run and go crazy and play with unbelievable energy and get away from what you look like in other areas. Just make easy plays and fly up and down.
“But he’s going to have to work his way through it. I can’t do it for him.”
Washington even had three fingers heavily taped against the Salukis.
PJ Washington leaves Jemarl Baker hanging so Quade Green takes care of him. pic.twitter.com/74OUZCugIW— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) November 10, 2018
That could go a long way in explaining Washington’s early struggles, and give some optimism that, as time goes and his hand heals, we will see a return to the aggressive PJ Washington we saw toward the end of last season.
Of course, Kentucky will continue to play on through the season so Washington has to work through those issues. His success will play a critical role in the team’s success and Kentucky can’t afford to have many more games where Washington played like he did.