PJ Washington Will Enter 2019 NBA Draft, Forgo Junior Season at Kentucky
Kentucky forward PJ Washington celebrates after a score against Alabama in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday, March 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Forward PJ Washington announced Tuesday that he will forgo his junior season at Kentucky and enter the 2019 NBA draft.

Washington made the announcement on Twitter with the following video message:

After a productive freshman season, Washington developed into the Wildcats’ top player in 2018-19, averaging 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game en route to being named to the All-SEC First Team.

Kentucky Basketball tweeted well wishes to Washington after he revealed his decision:

While Washington can still return to Kentucky, he announced that he will hire an agent, and every indication from his video suggests that he intends to remain in the draft pool.

Washington initially declared last year before returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, and Aaron Torres of Fox Sports Radio credited the Louisville, Kentucky, native with using the draft process to his advantage:

As a sophomore, Washington improved in essentially all areas. He was a significantly better shooter in 2018-19 than he was as a freshman, as he shot 52.2 percent from the field, 42.3 percent from beyond the arc and 66.3 percent from the free-throw line.

In 2017-18, Washington shot 51.9 percent from the field, 23.8 percent from long range and 60.6 percent from the charity stripe, which illustrates how far he has come.

Washington was named a semifinalist for the Naismith National College Player of the Year award, and he also helped Kentucky reach the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament before falling to Auburn.

After missing Kentucky’s first two NCAA tournament games with a foot injury, he returned in the Sweet 16 against Houston and scored 16 points in a winning effort. In the Elite Eight loss to Auburn, Washington finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds.

While Washington may not be regarded at the same level as Duke’s Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett or Murray State’s Ja Morant, he is seemingly a safe bet to come off the board somewhere in the lottery portion of the draft.

Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman predicted in his post-NCAA tournament mock draft that Washington will go 10th overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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