The Kentucky Wildcats were able to take care of business against Abilene Christian on Thursday, even though their star forward PJ Washington was in a cast on the sideline. Moving on to the Round of 32, will they be playing without him again?
Following the game, John Calipari said Washington’s cast might off tomorrow to be re-evaluated and is uncertain if he will play Saturday. He also detailed the thinking behind Washington wearing a hard cast.
“The option was a boot or the cast,” exclaimed Cal. “The cast would speed up the healing, so we said put the cast on. Whether they’ll take it off tomorrow to check, I don’t know. If they don’t, he won’t play Saturday, and they’ll probably try to take it off Tuesday or Wednesday of next week to see how his foot feels.
Calipari re-emphasized that the injury isn’t severe, even if the return to action is unknown.
“Everything was negative as far as the x-bays, but they just want, it was a sprained foot so they just want to keep it calm. That’s what it is.”
But right after interviews were done, Calipari told ESPN that Washington is not expected to play Saturday:
In interview outside locker room, John Calipari told ESPN he doesn’t think PJ Washington will play Saturday. #bbn #UKbasketball— John Clay (@johnclayiv) March 22, 2019
The Wildcats will return to action on Saturday against the winner of Wofford vs. Seton Hall, and that matchup will certainly be tougher than the opening round. Sure, Kentucky still has a roster full of McDonald’s All-Americans and top recruits, but any team would have a sharp learning curve when losing its best player.
Washington injured his foot, in what is being called a sprain, against Tennessee during the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. However, there is no particular moment caught on video where this injury took place.
On Wednesday, Calipari announced that Washington was fine and in a walking boot for precautionary reasons. Less than 24 hours later, he was out for the opening round and in a hard cast.
Calipari insists that the diagnosis has been consistent and that any measures are strictly precautionary, but an escalation in treatment certainly makes it looks like there may be more to this injury than we know.
With Washington at full strength, this is definitely a Final Four team with title aspirations. Without PJ, many believe they can still make a run to the Elite Eight. But to have a guy that is so heavily relied upon go down is just as big of a blow to a team’s psyche than to the X’s and O’s.
One great thing that did come out of tonight regarding PJ was seeing him get to put Kentucky’s sticker in the Round of 32 bracket:
That one was for you, @PJWashington. #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/DDKDGcW1Oj— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 22, 2019
Will Washington suit up on Saturday?
Will the Wildcats be able to win without him? We may not find out the answer to either of those questions until Saturday afternoon.