Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

Keldon Johnson staying in draft, will not return to UK

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.


Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

55 Comments for Keldon Johnson staying in draft, will not return to UK

  1. Carcrook
    9:12 am April 17, 2019 Permalink


  2. BigJohnC
    9:17 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Awesome. Hope he does great! Didn’t he say if he wasn’t a lottery pick he’d come back?

    • ClutchCargo
      9:44 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      No, he never said that. He said he would definitely stay in if he was a lottery pick. He didn’t say what would happen if he is not a lottery pick.

  3. HashtagNoseWhistle
    9:18 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Guys always talk about how it was the best year of their life. And how wonderful the experience and everyone was. But then chooses to go to the NBA where they are gonna struggle for a few years… smh. Hope I’m wrong about the struggling part though

    • henderblue
      9:48 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      It may have something to do with millions of dollars. That’s what I’m thinking..

    • JoeMoney333
      10:02 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      I loved college but if I was offered anywhere close to a million dollars I would have left, and so would you.

    • HashtagNoseWhistle
      11:08 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Coming from JoeMoney of course you’d take the money! Lol I love it

    • KentuckyBoy
      11:56 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      I really feel like there is a log jam at the 2-3 if they both stay, and they were probably discussing coming back together.

  4. katmandue2you
    9:19 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    For the love of money. For that lean mean mean green. Almighty dollar!

  5. ShooterMcGavin
    9:20 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Similar to how Demarcus is tired of being called Boogie, I’m tired of these 1 and dones calling me BBN

    • ClutchCargo
      9:51 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Out of all the complaining on here, this is one of the most creative efforts I have ever seen. Well done. But you can stop being called BBN at any time.

    • ShooterMcGavin
      1:57 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      CluthCargo you remember what it felt like to be a fan and not be objectified. I can tell by your bogans pic. Don’t act like I’m out bc I miss that.

  6. CoachCalFan
    9:20 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Came in and served his time well for us. Now it’s time for him to go achieve his dream! BBN fans thank him for giving his all out there and showing the next wave that they’re up next!

  7. RealCatsFan
    9:22 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    I just don’t understand why they shut the door on a return to college. Why not go through the evaluation process, and THEN make the decision? All I can figure is that someone is whispering in his ear.

    • CoachCalFan
      9:29 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      They are getting the right feedback that their agents are hearing from teams. If they hear a range that worst case is still 1st round then they are ok with 3yr guaranteed contract.
      Sure we can say “he can improve his stock to lottery next year” but we all know the risk of injury and as much opportunity/playing time with Brooks/Whitney/Allen (if he doesn’t med-redshirt) getting their chances

    • ClutchCargo
      9:48 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Just reading between the lines, but I suspect they have already taken steps that would preclude them from returning to college. That is, if the new car rumors are to be believed. Add to that, what CoachCalFan said, and it’s a done deal.

    • dballrb
      11:30 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Dead presidents are whispering in his ear..

    • BBNmemberinoh
      1:21 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      I don’t know about these 2 but no way everyone is getting the right information. There are over 100 going in the draft early, that does not count Seniors and foreign players. Simple math says not all will be 1st round picks or even get drafted. These 2 are probably 1st rounders but it shows it is what is wrong with the NBA, these 2 could not guard college guys well so how can they guard an NBA player right now. NBA is potential driven but I worry more about Keldon than I do Herro. Herro is a good size shooter but Johnson does nothing great and is a tweener position.

  8. Secret Squirrel
    9:24 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    NBA must really value potential.

    • Larkin123
      9:29 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Yes… it does not matter that some joe says he should come back to school. Potential from the first pick on…

    • chris43
      10:53 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      That’s really all the draft is based on now. Potential has always been considered and looked at but now a lot of players are taken strictly on it. Drafted solely based on the fact that they could/should be in a few years. If they don’t achieve it…out of the league and onto the next batch.

    • syrin23
      12:40 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      And what is his potential? Average size with not elite athleticism, and likely below average athleticism compared to other NBA players at his position. Poor shooter, bad shot selection, bad defender. He is not NBA ready, and the NBA won’t sit around waiting him to develop. People of his size and athleticism are the ones who should return more than any other. The NBA will let Nick Richards take time to develop because he DOES have NBA size and athleticism, but lacks skills. Keldon lacks both, and they can find a below average 6′ 6″ player on every single team in the country including most high school teams. If you are 6′ 6″ going into the NBA, and you want to stick around, you SHOULD be damn welled skilled to the point that there is no doubt you can play at the next level. Who watched Keldon the past two months and thought “There is a sure fire NBA player if I ever saw one”?

  9. drew_123
    9:29 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Props to all the guys for not dragging it out and giving us any false hope.

    • CoachCalFan
      9:33 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Them not dragging it out definitely helps us with recruiting and current roster guys mind a little more at ease

  10. chrislarkey
    9:47 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Welcome to D-League or Europe

    Good luck and hope your the next Jordan, but your size and ability is a dime a dozen in NBA

    • syrin23
      12:42 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      The most lucid comment in this thread.

    • Carcrook
      1:17 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      No, not really!

    • BBNmemberinoh
      1:23 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Not really, I do think Johnson will struggle. Just does nothing really well and where does he play.

  11. Bobbum Man
    9:54 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Man our fans really suck… then y’all wonder why they don’t stick around 4 years lol, look at these comments… grats to Keldon wish him nothing but best. This has been these kids dreams since they were little, how can you fault them for following it other than ur extremely selfish? They’ll get paid tons of money doing what they love, even worst case overseas etc…. get over yourselves

    • chrislarkey
      10:02 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Our fans dont suck. Ive never seen a fan basha SR or kid who left after a Soph or Jr year. Most dont think he is ready and get mad because its all about the money.
      No harm in wanting your team to be better

      I doubt anyone is mad at him for making money

      Im sure dook fans are wanting zion to stay too

    • henderblue
      10:03 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Go BobbumMan…this ^^^*

    • CoachCalFan
      10:08 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Most of our fans that leave comments are horrible!!! It’s a shame how selfish ppl are while at the same time calling themselves a fan…

    • StillBP
      10:15 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      chris, you get mad because it’s all about the money? What is college for? Oh, to help you get a career where you can make money. These guys simply don’t need more than 1 year to do that. Even if they end up overseas some day, they are still getting payed to play a sport they love and making good money doing it. If a player is truly destined to play overseas, one more year of college wouldn’t have made a difference. Get over yourself.

    • CoachCat
      4:13 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Who exactly made your opinion the only one that matters StillBP? Or any of the rest of you jumping down someone’s throat for voicing their opinion? I see the same people condemning any opinion that doesn’t match that of their own. Fact is some of the athletes are making mistakes by leaving and some aren’t. Not you or anyone else knows. Only time will tell. Talk about getting over ones self. Maybe try looking in the mirror

    • chrislarkey
      10:20 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      I am way over myself, like about 30 years ago. I hate the NBA and wont be watching any of them play. I love watching UK play and I cant help to be selfish for wanting MY team to stay and do better. everyone is selfish in one way or another.

      Im glad he is going to live his dream and make money
      Im sad he is no longer wearing my team uniform next year

      My goal is to win #9, not hope for a lottery pick

    • syrin23
      12:24 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      People mad at chris for being entirely accurate. We are UK fans first and foremost. Furthermore, these marginally ready players are leaving for SHORT term monetary gain, likely sacrificing long term gain, but all the idiots here are all about immediate gratification as if delaying your dream a year to potentially make tens of millions more long term is some how bad. I wonder how many of these same snow flakes ruthlessly criticize business CEO’s in their Marxist class du jour for being “greedy” while cheering these guys for grabbing the all mighty petrodollar as fast as they can. Keldon won’t be in the league in 3 years. His game got worse over the past two months. His jump shot is spotty, shot selection terrible, defense terrible. Tell me how that leads to a lucrative long term NBA contract. How does it help the kid to try to “fool” the NBA into doling out money for “potential” that is less likely to be developed at the next level?

    • BBNmemberinoh
      1:27 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      I’m not mad at them for leaving, I don’t like the system at all and wish we did not get so many one and done players. Just makes it worse when they leave when they are not close to ready, that is more at Johnson than Herro. And we never build 3-4 year guys because they feel like if they were not top picks after 2 years they transfer or go pro anyway, see SKJ, Mathews, Gabriel, Baker just to get started. It hurts UK, Cal, BBN and the players.

  12. bigbluenationmbb
    10:21 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Rj hampton

  13. Cmart0907
    10:23 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    These kids aren’t taking any chances of coming back while the door is open for the NBA. I don’t blame them. Y’all have to realize. These kids been playing basketball all their life. The chance to play in the NBA is hard to turn down. Good Job Keldon.

    • chrislarkey
      10:27 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      That is 100% true

    • chrislarkey
      10:33 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      And I cant blame them for that either.

    • syrin23
      12:27 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      You have to realize that is the dumbest possible argument you could make. EVERY college kid has been working their entire life for their career goal too. EVERY LAST ONE. The difference is, they don’t jump on the first chance they get when they AREN’T ready hoping they don’t get fired by their employer when they realize they lack the needed skills for the job.

    • JT919
      1:50 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Syrin obviously you don’t go to a job you aren’t prepared for when you’ve only made 40k by the time you get fired rather than several million. False equivalency on your part.

    • syrin23
      3:39 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      No it’s not, just the magnitude is different, that’s it. Several millions don’t let you retire for life.

  14. Pensacola_Cat_Fan
    10:32 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Most agents will advance you money to help convince you to stay in the draft. I’m assuming this is why the sudden flip from possibly going to definitely going. I’m sure they were reassured they would be picked in the first round as well. When guys come into the program with $ as their number one goal, it’s going to be an obvious choice after a decent season. It just is. I doubt many of us would turn down a million dollars or more.

  15. binarysolo
    10:49 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    You can’t take it personally that these kids leave after one year. Their dreams of becoming a professional basketball player is as important to them as your love for the University.

    They’re here to fulfill their dreams, not yours.

    • syrin23
      12:33 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      And when they flame out in 2-3 years because they lacked the skills needed for their dream, skills they COULD have developed had they stayed a whopping one more year, will you be the first to celebrate? You all act like they get one shot at being drafted, and one only. If they have NBA skills, they will get drafted no matter WHAT year they declare. It’s almost like they are trying to fool their employer into believing they are better than they are. Anyone watching Keldon the past two months can see he is NOT NBA ready, and may NEVER be. I hope he can learn to play defense, learn to take better shots, and find his shooting touch, but the league won’t be forgiving. They can draft another player JUST LIKE HIM in 12 months. He is a dime a dozen. You can’t find players with Nick Richards’s size and quickness on every team, you can find average 6’6″ players on every single team in the country at every division in basketball.

  16. Cmart0907
    10:52 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Its just this day and age the one and done is a system. It is what it is. How can y’all get mad because someone wants to chase their dreams? Everybody knows if you Kentucky they want to be a one and done. That’s not a secret Cal been doing it since he arrived. Y’all should be use to this by now instead of complaining.

    • Kernel Sanders
      11:11 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

      I’m not complaining at all. Good luck to all of them. Like ChrisLarkey said above though, I hate the NBA. Can’t bear to watch it. So I get why they come here, why they leave after one year. I’ll always want the one and done kids (not to mention 2-4 year players) to be successful and realize their dreams. However, after they play at UK for 4 or 5 months, they are out of sight, out of mind. On to the next crop, and the most attention I will pay to them is a glance at a box score about once a week. Doesn’t mean I’m a hater, doesn’t mean I don’t like Cal or am selfish or begrudge them anything. Just means that I follow UK and don’t care about the NBA. Been that way for a long time, so for me, has nothing to do with how many years Herro or Johnson or somebody like Poythress stays.

    • syrin23
      12:36 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

      Would you send your child into the world to “chase their dreams” if they weren’t ready? Think the world will be forgiving? WiIl the NBA? You think the Knicks aren’t already giving up on Kevin Knox? Historically bad shooting that we saw at the end of his UK career.

  17. VirginiaCat
    11:37 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Thank you, Keldon. It seems like only yesterday that you joined the team. On wait, it was pretty much yesterday.

  18. Kerosenerag
    11:56 am April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Thanks for the memories KJ. Wish we could have had ya longer…but glad you can achieve your dream. Best of luck in the League. BBN love’s ya!

  19. CoachCat
    4:00 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

    It’s not hard to figure out what’s happening. These authorized agents don’t make a dime if the athlete goes back to college. So he simply slides them a contract with a advance and says here. If you go ahead and sign you get this

  20. CoachCat
    4:15 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

    Other than that. I can’t wait to see Herro and Johnson go at each other on the court. The G league court

  21. shelby
    7:37 pm April 17, 2019 Permalink

    So, if while working out for a team he blows out his knee, he cannot come back to school and prove himself? And he’s screwed!