Ex-Cats

NBA Draft profile: Get to know Kentucky basketball’s PJ Washington

PJ Washington: A look back at the Kentucky forward’s 2018-19 season

University of Kentucky men’s basketball player PJ Washington played two seasons in Lexington before announcing he would enter the NBA Draft.
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University of Kentucky men’s basketball player PJ Washington played two seasons in Lexington before announcing he would enter the NBA Draft.

The essentials

Position: Power forward.

NBA Combine measurements: Height without shoes, 6-6.5; height with shoes, 6-8; weight, 230.4; wingspan, 7-2.25; standing reach, 8-10.5; body fat, 8.6%.

2018-19 Kentucky statistics: 15.2 points; 7.5 rebounds; 1.8 assists; 1.2 blocks; 0.8 steals; 29.3 minutes; 52.2 FG%; 42.3 3PT%; 66.3 FT%.

Player comparisons (via The Ringer): Shades of Taj Gibson, Jerami Grant, Brice Johnson.

Draft predictions

The Ringer (updated 6/15): 19th to the San Antonio Spurs.

SI.com (6/17): 12th to the Charlotte Hornets.

CBS Sports (6/10): 11th to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Yahoo Sports (6/12): 12th to the Charlotte Hornets.

Pre-draft analysis

From The Ringer: “Good passer for his position; has vision from all over the floor, though he does tend to force some passes into tight windows. … Rapidly improving spot-up 3-point shooter who projects to have NBA range. … Lacks explosiveness in traffic, which means he won’t be much of a pick-and-roll threat to throw down lobs or finish with power. Needs to diversify his offense: He rushes too many wild shots and lacks any advanced post moves; defenders will know he’s going to his right hook.”

From CBS Sports: “His offensive production and floor-spacing as a 3-point shooter will make up for whatever lost production a defensive stopper’s value would provide.”

From SI.com: “Washington seems to have enough fans that it’s easy to see him winding up anywhere in the late lottery, worst-case being a soft landing spot in the teens. … Teams view him as a relatively safe bet to be a contributor, and he’s athletic and versatile enough to fit into different types of lineups. … .”

From Yahoo Sports: “Washington could have been a late second-round pick last year but elected to return to Kentucky to work on his game, and that paid off. Washington is a bully in the lane, good on defense and has a nice touch from 3-point range for a big. He’ll need to get stronger to face the East’s best big men.”

Quotable

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas: “He’s a 6-9 forward that can step away and knock down a perimeter shot. He’s a good athlete. Solid, a solid prospect. … He became far more consistent. You could tell that he was more assertive, confident, impacted the game in far more ways than he did as a freshman. He’s a good passer, has a good understanding of the game. He showed that he could step out and knock a perimeter shot down. He could go into the post and be a go-to scorer with his back to the basket. I think he improved his body, did a much better job of running the floor. … He improved in every conceivable way I think and became more of a leader. …

“PJ Washington is going to be a good player for a long time in the league. He’s just solid. With his athletic profile, the fact that he’s very skilled, do I see him being a star in the NBA, an All-Star? Probably not. Do I see him being a starter in the league? I do. I think he’s got the opportunity to play for a long, long time.”

PJ Washington: “When I decided to come back to school a year ago, I knew there were things I still wanted to accomplish so I challenged myself to become a better all-around player, to develop more consistency and to become a leader for this team. … I want to thank God, Coach Cal and the staff with challenging me to become the player that I am. They believed in my potential and never accepted anything less than my best. Thank you helping me grow into a man that’s ready for this next step.”

John Calipari: “I’m so proud of PJ and what he’s accomplished over the last two seasons. … PJ transformed everything about his game. He became a national player of the year candidate, he showed his full set of his skills and he improved his stock while helping us become one of the best teams in the country. … Every kid is on their own timetable, and the one that PJ followed — which was the best path for him — has put him in a position to do some special things at the next level.”

Reading material

If Kentucky wins 2020 NCAA title, the first ring should go to PJ Washington

Reunion? PJ Washington knows all about playing alongside Trae Young

PJ Washington says second season at Kentucky served its purpose

‘I challenged myself.’ UK’s Washington says extra year to develop prepared him for NBA.

A Kentucky streak is on the line in the 2019 NBA Draft

Is PJ Washington making it cool to be more than a one-and-done at Kentucky?

PJ Washington is having his cake. And doting dad will make sure he eats it, too.

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