A ton of attention has been given to the “wake up call” that Ashton Hagans gave to Keldon Johnson on Saturday. It really seemed to energize Johnson, who helped lead the Kentucky Wildcats to a big SEC win at Auburn.
However, Hagans is not the only Wildcat holding his teammates accountable.
Around the seven minute mark of the first half against the Tigers, PJ Washington grabbed the jersey of Nick Richards and got in his face. While we do not know exactly what he said to Richards, video evidence shows that it was a passionate exchange.
Check out the clip below:
Not sure who else noticed this. But PJ Washington pleading to Nick Richards is the most emotion I’ve seen out of number 25 this year. Really think everything is gonna start clicking for him very soon. pic.twitter.com/pzZQRJjGxk— KY Clips (@KY_Clips) January 21, 2019
Washington re-established himself in the Auburn games as a leader of this Kentucky team. He scored 13 points, tied for the team high of seven rebounds, and added two assists and a massive blocked shot.
Fantastic rejection by PJ Washington. pic.twitter.com/dY1JDmcrwK— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 19, 2019
Although Nick Richards did not set the stat sheet on fire on Saturday, the fact that Washington showed this type of leadership could be huge for the Wildcats in the coming months.
Washington has typically been a player that can just as easily dominate a game as he can completely disappear when things get intense. John Calipari and Kenny Payne have often talked about how Washington is the key to this team reaching its potential, and Saturday’s “encouragement” of fellow sophomore Nick Richards is a great start to the team taking the next step. That is what it will take for the team to become player-driven, which is what the coaching staff has been preaching for months.
In order for the Wildcats to be a successful tournament team, they must have a vocal, on-court leader. While many expected that to be Keldon Johnson before the season began, it seems Ashton Hagans and PJ Washington are stepping into that role.
Not a moment too soon...