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:
Paul Washington Jr @PJWashington
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 🉑✍🏽💙 https://t.co/3x6n5RcHqZ
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:
Kentucky Basketball @KentuckyMBB
It’s been so fun to watch @PJWashington grow into the player and the man that he’s become. He’s ready for the next step and we can’t wait to watch him do his thing in the NBA. Congratulations to PJ on a heck of a career at Kentucky. #DreamBIG https://t.co/uetZ3aUjFs
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:
Aaron Torres @Aaron_Torres
In the least surprising news ever, Kentucky announces PJ Washington has declared for the NBA Draft and will sign with an agent. Credit to him: Washington used the draft process perfectly last year, returned and made a LOT more money because of it. Best of luck to him in the NBA
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.