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Kevin Knox says PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt returning would make UK a title contender

“If you get PJ and Vando back, I think next year’s team has a really good shot at winning a championship.”

High School Basketball: 40th Annual McDonald's All-American Games Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Knox is off to the NBA Draft, but he’s still very high on what the Kentucky Wildcats can do in 2018-19.

That is, if UK is able to get two or three of their remaining NBA Draft guys back in Lexington next season. Right now, Jarred Vanderbilt, Wenyen Gabriel and PJ Washington are all testing the draft waters.

In regards to Washington and Vanderbilt, there’s a good case to be made for both of them staying in the draft or returning to UK.

Knox actually thinks there’s a good chance that both are back in Lexington next season. In an interview with KSR, Knox spoke about their impending NBA decisions and what the impact of returning to school would make on UK.

“I think [Jarred Vanderbilt], he declared for the draft, I think he has a pretty good shot. He played really well when he was hurt. He has a good shot of coming back,” said Knox. “PJ [Washington] has another good shot. If you get PJ and Vando back, I think next year’s team has a really good shot at winning a championship.”

If PJ and Jarred were to return, it would mean UK returns four McDonald’s All-Americans from the previous class for just the second time under John Calipari. The first was in 2014 when they returned Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson to a team that would go 38-1 the following season.

Right now, UK already knows Nick Richards and Quade Green will be back, so keeping Vanderbilt and Washington to go with the incoming recruits could propel this team to title contender status.

When healthy, Vanderbilt was arguably the best rebounder in college basketball. Washington was no slouch himself either, however, as he averaged 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament. He also scored in double figures 11 times in his last 12 games.

Getting one of them back is critical for UK just to remain a legitimate Final Four contender, and it’s hard to see them being a true title contender without both in Lexington.

Be sure to read Knox’s full interview with KSR, which includes scouting reports on the incoming Cats.