PJ Washington hasn’t yet made his decision as to whether he wants to return to Kentucky for a sophomore season, but Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo may have given him something to think about in his early look at 2019’s top 30 NBA Draft prospects.
Looking at the best of next year’s draft class, Woo has Washington as the No. 19 player in the class.
Washington was at his best playing as a small-ball five this season, with freakish length that helps compensate for his lack of height. He’s presently testing the waters along with teammates Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel, creating a bit of a quandary as far as playing time for whoever returns. Washington will have a chance to solidify his stock at the combine, but seems more likely to land in the early second round than the first, which could lead to another year of school. He doesn’t have crazy upside, but his skill level on the interior and explosiveness off the floor could make him a quality role player.
As for the 2018 draft, Washington is projected to go somewhere around the middle of the second round. Washington isn’t likely to get the first-round guarantee he’s looking for, so he’s going to have to make a decision.
Woo’s analysis suggests that he’d be better served from a long-term financial perspective to stay at Kentucky for one more year.
The other Wildcat on the list is future Wildcat Keldon Johnson. Johnson may be the most slept on star in his class, as he’s got all the scoring ability in the world and can spread the floor well.
Perhaps the most impressive player over the course of McDonald’s All-American week, Johnson is extremely competitive and can be a bully scoring the ball on the wing. While he benefits from being physically mature, he has a polished offensive game at this stage. He’s able to finish above the rim with either hand, hit the three with some consistency and fall back on his midrange jumper if need be. He should have immediate success at Kentucky and potentially parlay that into a one-and-done year, but he may lack the elite upside of some others in this class given he relies more on strength than explosiveness.
A likely one-and-done, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnson moving up lists like this as we get into his freshman year.
The lack of other Wildcats on this list is a little surprising. There’s no Immanuel Quickley, no E.J. Montgomery, no Nick Richards, and none of the other players that are still making their decisions (like Jarred Vanderbilt).