Keldon Johnson decided to keep his name in the NBA Draft, ending any possibility he will return to Kentucky for a sophomore season.
On Wednesday of last week, Johnson announced he would enter the draft process, but said a final decision on his future had not yet been made. That has since changed as he announced this morning that he will remain in the draft and close the book on his college basketball career.
“Big Blue Nation, thank you for my time here at Kentucky,” Johnson said. “I really enjoyed it. I had a wonderful experience. You guys made for the best year I could ever have. I really appreciate you guys taking me in as family and one of your own and supporting me through the thick and thin of the season and supporting this team.
“I want to thank my coaches: Coach Cal, Coach Barbee, Coach Robic, Coach Joel and Coach KP for just always being there for me and having my back. I want to thank my family and my friends back in South Hill (Virginia) for always being there for me when I need a hand.
“I want to let everyone know that I’ll be entering and keeping my name in the 2019 NBA Draft. Thank you, BBN.”
In Johnson’s one season at UK, he averaged 14.6 points and 5.7 rebounds, including a career-high 17 rebounds against Auburn in Rupp Arena in the regular season. He also was named SEC Freshman of the Year and was selected to the All-SEC Freshman Team and All-SEC Second Team.
“Keldon has a game that will translate well to the next level,” John Calipari said. “Of all the players in this draft, he could have one of the best transitions physically and athletically. He has all the tools you look for in a player in that league, and what makes him special is his joy for the game and his passion to get better. He improved in all phases of his game this year and will continue to grow in the NBA. I’ll miss seeing that smile he brought to the gym every day but I’m happy for Keldon as he pursues his dream.”
Most NBA mock draft projections have him slotted in the No. 18-22 pick range.