Tomorrow P.J. Washington will receive his first significant test of pre-draft season at the NBA Combine in Chicago. One of three Wildcats who have not signed with an agent, along with Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel, the next four days will likely determine whether Washington stays at UK or goes to the NBA.
Leading into the combine, the buzz around the Washington camp feels like he’s leaning toward the draft. However, the mock drafters tend to believe he will be back at Kentucky for one more year.
In the latest ESPN mock draft, Jonathan Givony left him off the board. Givony told Kyle Tucker, “he has his work cut out for him,” as he attempts to climb out of the 30-50 range and into the first round. Givony has Washington slated as the 18th overall prospect in the 2019 draft.
Now another mock drafter believes he’ll be back for another year. Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated is already looking ahead to next year’s draft. He slates Washington at the 19th overall pick in 2019.
“Washington was at his best playing as a small-ball five this season, with freakish length that helps compensate for his lack of height. He’s presently testing the waters along with teammates Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel, creating a bit of a quandary as far as playing time for whoever returns. Washington will have a chance to solidify his stock at the combine, but seems more likely to land in the early second round than the first, which could lead to another year of school. He doesn’t have crazy upside, but his skill level on the interior and explosiveness off the floor could make him a quality role player.”
Woo believes Washington will return if he is not a first round draft pick. Washington’s father said he will go to the NBA if the first round is guaranteed; beyond that, it’s still a toss-up.
We’ll receive more clarity from Washington and Vanderbilt after their four days in Chicago. Until then, check out the rest of Woo’s 2019 mock draft that only features one other Wildcat, Keldon Johnson.