The 2019 NBA Draft was a magical evening for three former Kentucky Wildcats, as PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson all heard their name called in the first round.
For former UK forward Reid Travis, though, the night wasn’t as special, as all 60 draft selections were called out, and he wasn’t one of them.
While he wasn’t listed in any of the major mock drafts in the lead-up to Thursday evening, some felt there was a chance he could slide in at the end of the second round. John Calipari was one of those individuals that saw it as a strong possibility.
“For Reid, I thought (pick) 59 and 60, I thought he had that chance to go in the second round. Those two picks specifically, but even before then,” Calipari said.
One of the main reasons Calipari believes no one took a chance on Travis? A lingering leg injury kept him from working out with teams during the pre-draft process.
“He did not get to work out for one team. Not one,” he said. “Any question marks [teams had], he couldn’t [show them]. What I wanted him to do, and I told him right away, every team you worked out for a year ago, go back. Work out for that same team. They’ll see. He didn’t get to do it because of his leg.”
Nonetheless, Travis will now have to try his hand at latching on with an NBA team as an undrafted free agent.
And according to Calipari, the former Wildcat forward will have his fair share of options in the immediate future.
“I talked to him yesterday, he’s going to now figure out what’s next,” he said. “I think he’s been invited to a couple Summer League teams.”
While he’s certainly upset someone didn’t take a chance on Travis in the second round, Calipari was quick to point out that not all players are on the same path to success. For some, it takes a bit longer to reach their goals than others, but they’re still attainable.
“Every kid is on a different path,” he said. “Whether it was Isaiah Briscoe, who went to the Ukraine, or whether it’s Derek Willis playing in Germany having a heck of a year, he’s now putting himself in position that way. They’re all on different paths.”
Overall, he knows how talented Travis is and how much he improved in the one year he had him in Lexington.
Now, he just has to show it off in front of NBA coaches and executives when Summer League begins in the coming weeks.
“Reid is way, way better than he was, and he knows that,” Calipari said. “Reid is the best version of himself right now as a player. Better movement, playing above the rim where he didn’t, blocking shots, dunking balls, no one ever saw any of that in him. His 3-point shooting and all that stuff has improved, his free-throw shooting. He’s a better player.
“He improved himself immensely. No question in his mind, my mind or anybody else in the NBA that watched him.”