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Kentucky Basketball: More buzz for PJ Washington staying in NBA Draft

It’s looking like PJ Washington is set on being a pro next season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional Practice Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The likelihood that PJ Washington leaves for the NBA Draft is growing.

The talented forward is already testing the draft waters, and there’s been plenty of buzz that he wants to stay in the draft.

John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader is now predicting that Washington stays in the draft and forgoes his sophomore season at UK.

Kyle Tucker of SEC Country actually spoke with an NBA scout about Washington and other UK players testing the waters. The scout actually thinks Washington is staying in the draft.

“I think PJ is out — I’m pretty sure he’s going — and it’s a shame, because you just look at next year’s draft and there’s a lot more opportunity,” the scout said while adding, “They should all come back.”

Washington is listed 50th on ESPN’s latest big board, and 60th on Sports Illustrated, though their latest mock has him going 53rd to the Thunder. has him ranked 63rd.

Washington didn’t exactly jump off the page as a freshman, averaging 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He did bring a lot of intensity, strength and inside presence this year, and he was consistently UK’s best defender.

Washington likely won’t get a positive return in the draft process, but it sounds like he doesn’t care and just wants to be a pro, not a college kid.

Washington planning to stay in the draft would explain how UK was able to land E.J. Montgomery so quickly. The five-star forward could be UK’s best player next season, but he also could end up without a starting spot if Washington is at the 4.

Obviously, that won’t be an issue if Washington stays in the draft, making it easier for Montgomery to take that spot.

With more time, Washington will have a good chance to become an undersized big that is currently a commodity in the NBA. At 6-8, he could be a 4, or even a small-ball 5, if he can develop into a Draymond Green type.

Saying this, Washington is a long way from getting there, so if he truly is ready to leave, he better be ready for a lot of time in the G-League and possibly overseas.