After an incredible sophomore season, Kentucky forward PJ Washington has declared for the NBA Draft.
I will be entering my name into the 2019 NBA Draft and signing with an agent. Thank you BBN for all your love and support over the past two years. Once a wildcat, Always a wildcat ✍ pic.twitter.com/3x6n5RcHqZ— Paul Washington Jr (@PJWashington) April 9, 2019
Yes, he also declared last year without hiring an agent. But this time it seems certain that he will not be back at Kentucky next year.
Washington averaged 12.9 points and 6.6 rebounds in two seasons with the Kentucky Wildcats. However, his impact on this season, and for the future of the program, cannot be found on a stats sheet.
When PJ returned for his sophomore year, and then showed so much growth that he became a consensus All-American, he set a precedent for players staying more than one year at Kentucky. He is a perfect example of why sometimes being a one-and-done player is not the right decision for everyone. He also put on full display how good Kentucky’s program is at developing players.
Let us also not forget PJ coming in and taking over an NCAA Tournament game against Houston on a day when nobody knew for certain if he would be able to play. That was a legendary performance that is sure to go in Kentucky basketball lore for some time.
When Washington declared for the NBA Draft last season, he chose not to hire an agent and to take the feedback he received at the combine to heart. As a result, his game grew exponentially.
After making only five three-point shots as a freshman, he hit 33 as a sophomore while making over 43% of his attempts from deep. He also played with a better motor throughout the season, taking fewer plays, and games, off.
Going into this season, it was a foregone conclusion that PJ headed to the NBA at the end of the year. Now that it is official, you have to be happy for a guy that made the right decision in coming back, and now he will be monetarily rewarded for that decision.
You should also be happy that his example could be a model for future Wildcats to follow. PJ has proved to be a reminder that Year 2 under Calipari at Kentucky can be a life-altering a decision, even when the NBA and immediate earnings is right in front of a player.
But more importantly, Washington goes down as one of the best to ever come through Lexington in the Calipari era. He was truly a joy to watch.