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Keldon Johnson declares for NBA Draft, leaves door open for return

Keldon Johnson likely joins the long list of one-and-dones under John Calipari.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Auburn vs Kentucky Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats freshman wing Keldon Johnson has declared for the 2019 NBA Draft.

The 6-6 freshman joins a long list of one-and-dones under John Calipari. And he’s likely to join the list of those drafted in the first round, but he’s keeping the door open for a possible return to Lexington.

Johnson had a bit of an up-and-down year in his first season in Lexington. In 31 minutes per game, he averaged 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. He shot 46 percent from the field, as well as 38 percent from three and 70 percent from the free throw line.

Keldon is a long, athletic wing with a lot of potential. And that’s likely why he’ll be drafted. But it could easily be argued that Johnson should return for a sophomore season, a la PJ Washington.

At the beginning of the year, Johnson was projected in the top 10 or 15 of every mock draft. Now, it looks like he’ll be lucky to go in the top 20. Another year to improve and show some consistency could work wonders for KJ.

While Keldon is very long and athletic, he struggled to utilize this against better opponents. He dominated less-talented and athletic teams like Abilene Christian, but he wasn’t able to put up the same numbers against higher quality teams.

As athletic as he is, Johnson gets blocked more than any one-and-done I can remember. A lot of freshmen are streaky, but Keldon could benefit from a second year.

Johnson came into Kentucky with the plan being that he leave after one season in the blue and white. It’s become almost a stigma for players to return for a second or multiple years, but I hope PJ Washington helped put this myth behind us.

Of course, Johnson can still pull his name out of the Draft before May 29th, but the safe bet is him keeping his name in. A fringe first-rounder or second-rounder might be cause to return to school, but not many guys come back when they’re guaranteed first-round money.

Keldon’s long-term potential is through the roof, and if he can find some consistency, he could be a very good NBA player.

The Big Blue Nation wishes nothing but the best for Keldon!