Ex-Cat Pat Riley’s Heat lining up pre-draft visits with Kentucky players

Tyler Herro: For Kentucky players, being a pro starts long before the NBA

Tyler Herro said he learned to be a pro while playing for Kentucky. He takes that knowledge to the NBA.
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Tyler Herro said he learned to be a pro while playing for Kentucky. He takes that knowledge to the NBA.

Miami Heat officials already have had a long look at three University of Kentucky prospects who could all go in the teens of the June 20 NBA Draft. And they’re going to get an even closer look in the weeks ahead.

The Heat, who have the 13th overall pick, have scheduled a private workout and visit in South Florida with Kentucky forward PJ Washington, according to a league source. Miami also plans to bring in Kentucky guard Tyler Herro, according to NEO Sports Inside’s John Alfes.

And the Heat has shown interest in scheduling a South Florida visit and workout with Kentucky 6-foot-6 swingman Keldon Johnson, though nothing was booked as of late last week.

The Heat’s interest in Kentucky prospects is not surprising. Heat President Pat Riley attended school there and keeps a close eye on the Wildcats program. Coach John Calipari often produces NBA-ready prospects. And the Heat’s most recent first-round pick, Bam Adebayo, played at Kentucky.

Washington, a 6-8 stretch four, is intriguing. He averaged 15.2 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game and shot 52.2 percent from the field and 42.3 percent — 33-for-78 — on three-pointers last season.

“He’s big and strong enough to physically dominate the most physical power forwards in the country and yet he’s quick enough and skilled enough to be able to step out on the floor and do things like a big guard,” Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl told reporters this past season, via Bleacher Report.

Kentucky freshman Keldon Johnson talks about his on-court relationship with roommate and fellow freshman Tyler Herro. Johnson leads UK in scoring at 16.4 points per game. The Wildcats play at Alabama on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019.

ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla sees Washington and Johnson among a bunch of realistic options at 13, though some mocks have them going slightly later. Herro is considered likely to go in the late teens or early 20s.

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