PJ Washington

P.J. Washington, Grant Williams, Others Entering 2019 Draft

Kentucky forward P.J. Washington has opted to enter the 2019 NBA draft and will hire an agent, according to a press release from the program. Washington, who considered going pro after his freshman year, returned to the Wildcats for his sophomore season and had a strong year. Now, he plans to keep his name in the draft pool, forgoing his remaining NCAA eligibility.

“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,” Washington said in a statement. “Although we fell a couple games short of our ultimate goal, I’ll never forget the season we had with my brothers. We did some special things this season and made memories that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.”

Washington increased his numbers across the board in his second year at Kentucky, averaging 15.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 1.2 BPG on .522/.423/.663 shooting. He’s currently ranked 15th on ESPN’s big board, with Jonathan Givony praising his “enviable physical tools.”

Here are more updates on players declaring for the 2019 NBA draft:

  • Another one of the top 25 players on Givony’s board – Tennessee junior forward Grant Williams – has announced his intention to test the draft waters. Williams, the No. 24 prospect per ESPN, averaged 18.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 3.2 APG for the Vols. He indicated that he’ll go through the pre-draft process, leaving the door open to return for his senior season.
  • Florida State’s Mfiondu Kabengele is entering the draft and intends to keep his name in this year’s pool, he tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. “My decision is I’m going to put my name in the draft this year,” the sophomore center said. “Just because of the season I had, the growth, I feel like I did as much as I could at Florida State. I learned a lot. My next challenge is going to be to expand my game.” Kabengele is the No. 30 prospect on ESPN’s top 100.
  • Three Michigan underclassmen on ESPN’s big board – freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis (No. 48), sophomore guard Jordan Poole (No. 68), and junior guard Charles Matthews (No. 69) – will go through the draft process, the school announced today in a press release. All three players will hire agents, though they’ll still have until May 29 to withdraw if they so choose.
  • Auburn junior guard Jared Harper is leaving school and declaring for the 2019 NBA draft, per a press release. “I have always been a believer in Jared,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said of the No. 61 prospect on ESPN’s big board. “He is a special player with speed, quickness, power and a skill level that is unmatched by virtually any player his size. He will make it in the NBA.”
  • Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans, a candidate to be drafted this year, will instead return to the Wildcats for his sophomore season, he confirmed today. As ESPN’s Jonathan Givony tweets, Hagans will focus on improving his shooting and play-making in his second season at Kentucky.
  • Here are a few more early entrants who don’t rank in ESPN’s top 100, but who are entering the draft:

And-Ones: 2019 Draft, Age Minimum, Team USA

After attending a handful of summer events involving top prospects, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (Insider link) have updated their 2019 NBA mock draft. While Duke freshman R.J. Barrett continues to be viewed as 2019’s top pick, he’s joined in the top three this time around by a fast-rising teammate — Givony and Schmitz have Duke forward Zion Williamson at No. 3 in their latest mock.

Other new names in ESPN’s top 10 include Kentucky freshman wing Keldon Johnson and Oregon freshman center Bol Bol. Johnson excelled in the Wildcats’ exhibition games in the Bahamas, though the ESPN duo was also impressed by Johnson’s teammate PJ Washington, who “looks to be in much better shape” than he was last season. As for Bol, he had a strong showing at the Nike Basketball Academy, as Givony detailed earlier in the month.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Although the NBA’s draft eligibility rule related to a player’s minimum age won’t change within the next couple years, it seems highly likely to be altered or eliminated at some point. Tom Ziller of SBNation.com explores a few possible alternatives to the current rule.
  • In a step toward the elimination of the one-and-done rule, the NBA, NCAA, and NBPA reached an agreement with USA Basketball, announcing today that Team USA will expand its Men’s Junior National Team program to include additional training camps and year-round player development programming. The program will include approximately 80 top high school prospects, or about 20 per high school class. Here’s the official announcement from USA Basketball, along with more details from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
  • Players on two-way contracts who spend the maximum allowable number of days with their NBA clubs in 2018/19 will be able to earn up to $385,612 this season, tweets cap expert Albert Nahmad. That’s still well short of the NBA rookie minimum ($838,464), but greatly exceeds the standard $35K G League salary.
  • Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders examines some potential surprise teams for the 2018/19 season, suggesting that the Bulls, Mavericks, Pistons, Clippers, and Suns are candidates to exceed expectations.

PJ Washington To Return To Kentucky

Kentucky forward PJ Washington intends to return to the Wildcats for the 2018/19 season, he announced today (via Twitter). Washington posted a video that featured several of his highlight-reel plays and ended with the text, “I’m back.”

The No. 54 prospect on Jonathan Givony’s top-100 list at ESPN.com, Washington averaged 10.8 PPG and 5.7 RPG with a .519/.238/.606 shooting line in his freshman year with John Calipari‘s club.

When he announced his decision to test the draft waters earlier this spring, Washington stressed that he loves the Kentucky program and wasn’t in a hurry to decide on going pro, but was encouraged by Calipari to get feedback on where he stands.

Washington was one of several Kentucky underclassmen to declare for the 2018 NBA draft. Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who were testing the waters like Washington, have yet to announce their decisions. Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Hamidou Diallo are all going pro.

Draft Notes: Huell, Rose, Pipkins, Caroline

With the deadline to withdraw from the draft coming on Wednesday, several players have reached their final decisions. Among them is Miami forward Dewan Huell, who will return to school for his junior season, writes Jordan McPherson of The Miami Herald.

Huell, who made a formal announcement on Twitter earlier today, averaged 11.4 points and 6.7 rebounds in 32 games this season. “I’m really excited to get back to work with my brothers so we can accomplish more than ever during the 2018-19 season,” he wrote.

Huell doesn’t appear in the list of top 100 prospects compiled by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and would have been a long shot to be drafted.

There’s more draft-related news to pass along:

East Draft Notes: Hawks, Wizards, Raptors, Nets

UCLA point guard Aaron Holiday and Villanova floor leader Jalen Brunson headline the list of six players the Hawks will work out on Friday, according to a team press release. Holiday is ranked No. 17 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, while Brunson is rated No. 26 overall.

Gary Clark (Cincinnati), Rawle Alkins (Arizona), Juwan Morgan (Indiana) and Tony Carr (Penn State) are the other players trying to make a favorable impression. The Hawks hosted Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova), Ben Lammers (Georgia Tech), Jalen McDaniels (San Diego State), Markis McDuffie (Wichita State), Doral Moore (Wake Forest) and Brandon Sampson (LSU) on Thursday.

In other draft workouts by Eastern Conference clubs:

Draft Workouts: Jazz, Ball, Ona Embo, Pinson

Armed with the 21st and 52nd overall picks in next month’s draft, the Jazz are taking a look at a wide range of prospects this week, according to the team.

On Tuesday, the Jazz brought in Jaylen Barford (Arkansas), Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Dwight Coleby (Western Kentucky), Jock Landale (St. Mary’s), Caleb Martin (Nevada), and Kenneth Ogbe (Utah Valley) for auditions (Twitter links).

The team’s series of workouts continued today with Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State), Chimezie Metu (USC), Shamorie Ponds (St. John’s), PJ Washington (Kentucky), Mustapha Heron (Auburn), and Matt Mobley (St. Bonaventure) earning a look from the Jazz (Twitter link).

Here’s more pre-draft workout news from around the league:

  • After a stint in Lithuania, LiAngelo Ball has returned stateside to audition for NBA teams ahead of the 2018 draft. According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link), Lonzo Ball‘s younger brother interviewed with the Thunder and Suns at the Pro Basketball Combine, and has private workouts on tap with the Lakers, Clippers, and Warriors.
  • A report earlier this week indicated that Tulane’s Ray Ona Embo is expected to withdraw from the draft, but it appears he’s going through with his scheduled workouts before making a final decision. Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) hears from Ona Embo’s brother that the sophomore guard has a workout with the Hornets lined up for Friday.
  • Former UNC wing Theo Pinson has worked out for the Celtics and Timberwolves so far, and will audition for the Rockets on Thursday, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. Pinson also has a Knicks workout on his calendar for June 12, Zagoria adds.
  • According to Zagoria (via Twitter), Syracuse early entrant Tyus Battle is working out for the Magic on Wednesday.

Draft Notes: Washington, Ward, Brown, Hudson

Kentucky freshman forward PJ Washington is working out for the Clippers this week and will meet with the Timberwolves and Bucks before next week’s draft combine, Fletcher Page of the Louisville Journal Courier reports. Washington, who has already visited the Celtics and Nets, has a pinky finger injury that will require surgery, Page continues. Father Paul Washington told Page that his son isn’t assured of staying in the draft.

“It’s real simple — if he’s guaranteed a first round pick, then he’ll stay in the draft,” Paul Washington said. “If he doesn’t get that, we’ll have to make a decision. It’s PJ’s decision.”

The 6’8” Washington is listed at No. 51 among Jonathan Givony’s top 100 prospects at ESPN.com. He averaged 10.8 PPG and 5.7 RPG for the Wildcats.

In other draft developments:

  • Michigan State sophomore center Nick Ward will work out for the Pistons this weekend, Brendan Quinn of The Athletic tweets. Ward has already worked out for the Knicks and Thunder and at least eight other teams are interested in bringing him in, Quinn adds. He averaged 12.4 PPG and 7.1 RPG for the Spartans. He is not listed among Givony’s top 100 prospects.
  • The Hawks are bringing in six prospects on Wednesday, according to a team press release. South Carolina forward Brian Bowen, Auburn guard Bryce Brown, Purdue guard Nojel Eastern, Maryland forward Bruno Fernando, Florida shooting guard Jalen Hudson and Utah Valley center Akolda Manyang are the players visiting Atlanta. Hudson, ranked No. 45 by Givony, is the most prominent member of the group.

Draft Updates: Early Entrant Decisions, Peters, Daum

More than 50 NCAA underclassmen have already hired agents – or plan to – and have forfeited their remaining college eligibility, but there are another 100+ early entrants who will have to decide in the next month whether to keep their names in the draft or return to school.

In his latest piece for The Athletic, Michael Scotto took a closer look at five of those underclassmen who have decisions to make, speaking to three NBA general managers, four executives, and a scout about Tyus Battle (Syracuse), Khyri Thomas (Creighton), Jarred Vanderbilt (Kentucky), PJ Washington (Kentucky), and Bruno Fernando (Maryland).

While all eight talent evaluators who spoke to Scotto believe that Thomas should go pro, they were divided on Battle and Vanderbilt, and the majority felt that Washington and Fernando should head back to their respective programs.

Here are a few more draft notes and updates:

  • Mississippi State guard Lamar Peters, who entered the 2018 NBA draft without hiring an agent, has decided to withdraw from the process and return to school for his junior year, he announced on Twitter. Peters will rejoin teammates Aric Holman and Nick Weatherspoon, both of whom considered testing the draft waters but ultimately didn’t enter their names.
  • South Dakota State forward Mike Daum will also withdraw from the draft process and head back to school for the 2018/19 season, he announced over the weekend (via Twitter). Daum will look to follow up a junior year that saw him average 23.9 PPG and 10.3 RPG for the Jackrabbits.
  • There’s no consensus among elite high school prospects on whether the elimination of the one-and-done rule for draft prospects would be a good thing, as Jason Jordan of USA Today details. While most players who spoke to Jordan were in favor of giving prospects more freedom by adjusting the rule, others worried that doing so could result in a flood of early entrants who aren’t yet ready for the next level.

Draft Updates: Washington, Wilkes, Happ, Konate

Kentucky forward PJ Washington will test the draft waters after his freshman year, he announced on Tuesday (via Twitter). In his statement, Washington stressed that he loves the Kentucky program and isn’t in a hurry to decide on going pro, but was encouraged by coach John Calipari to get feedback on where he stands.

In the view of ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, Washington is the No. 47 prospect in this year’s class, which would give him a good chance of being drafted this spring. The 6’7″ forward is coming off a freshman season in which he averaged 10.8 PPG and 5.7 RPG for the Wildcats.

Here are a few more of the latest draft updates:

  • UCLA forward Kris Wilkes will enter the 2018 NBA draft without hiring an agent, he tells Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports (Twitter link). The No. 68 prospect on ESPN’s big board, Wilkes posted 13.7 PPG and 4.9 RPG as a freshman for the Bruins in 2017/18.
  • The University of Wisconsin announced on Tuesday (via Twitter) that junior big man Ethan Happ will test the draft waters. “The underclassmen rule allows Ethan and others to participate in workouts with teams and potentially the NBA combine,” coach Greg Gard said of the junior forward/center, the 77th player on ESPN’s top 100. “This experience will be invaluable for him and will ultimately make him a better player.”
  • West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate will also test the draft waters, per a report from The Associated Press. In his sophomore year, Konate averaged 10.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and an impressive 3.2 BPG in just 25.4 minutes per contest.
  • Iowa redshirt sophomore Isaiah Moss has declared for the 2018 NBA draft but won’t hire an agent, retaining his NCAA eligibility for now, the program announced in a press release. The 6’5″ guard averaged 11.1 PPG on .420/.386/.879 shooting in 2017/18. Like other underclassmen who aren’t hiring an agent, Moss will have until May 30 to withdraw his name in order to retain his NCAA eligibility.