The waiting game is almost over. By 11:59 p.m. tomorrow night, we will finally know whether PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Wenyen Gabriel are staying in the NBA Draft or returning to Kentucky.
We’ve endured our share of stay-or-go decisions over the years, but with very little intel leaking out, these three may be the most mysterious, and therefore, frustrating for a fanbase already suffering from one-and-done fatigue. While we count down the minutes and keep a keen eye on social media, here’s everything we know about each player’s situation.
Mock Draft Stock: The only mock draft that includes Washington comes from Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo, who has the Minnesota Timberwolves taking him with the 48th pick.
NBA Draft Combine: Participated to mixed reviews. Impressed in scrimmages, interviews, and measurements but did not perform well in athletic testing. Probably didn’t do enough to get a first-round guarantee.
NBA Team Interviews/Workouts: Utah Jazz (picks 21, 52), Los Angeles Clippers (picks 12, 13), Brooklyn Nets (picks 29, 40, 45), Boston Celtics (pick 27), Minnesota Timberwolves (picks 20, 48).
Case for Returning to Kentucky: A successful sophomore season could turn PJ into a first round pick. He showed plenty of promise in his first year at Kentucky, but lacks consistent effort and a solid jumper. Kentucky may have plenty of versatile bigs next year, but no one can bully to the basket like PJ. If he comes back for a sophomore season, he would play a starring role on a national championship contending team, a tempting thought for a player with his competitive drive. Besides, he still needs surgery to repair his pinky, which has been broken since January.
Case for Staying in the NBA Draft: PJ says he’ll only stay in the draft if given a first-round guarantee. I seriously doubt he’ll get one, but if he does, it would be very, very tough to turn down.
Mock Draft Stock: Two mock drafts have Jarred being drafted, both in the second round. Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo predicts he’ll go 52nd to Utah, while The Ringer has him going as high as 40th to the Brooklyn Nets.
NBA Draft Combine: Was invited but did not participate
NBA Team Interviews/Workouts: Unknown
Case for Returning to Kentucky: Due to injuries, Jarred only played in 14 games, meaning he’s only scratched the surface of his potential. He led Kentucky in rebounds per game (7.9 rpg) and, at times, looked like one of the team’s best passers and defenders. Jarred has a nose for the ball, and if healthy, could be one of the most exciting players in college basketball. A second year at Kentucky would allow him to fully recover from his injuries and put together a complete resume for the NBA.
Case for Staying in the NBA Draft: A team may take a chance on Jarred in the second round this summer; what happens if he stays at Kentucky for a second year and gets hurt again? That may be a gamble he and his family aren’t willing to take.
Mock Draft Stock: Wenyen is not listed on any major mock drafts.
NBA Draft Combine: Was not invited
NBA Team Interviews/Workouts: Oklahoma City (picks 53, 57), Utah Jazz (picks 21, 52), Milwaukee Bucks (pick 17), Brooklyn Nets (picks 29, 40, 45), Sacramento Kings (picks 2, 36)
Case for Returning to Kentucky: Wenyen is on track to graduate in three years, meaning if he returns to Kentucky for another season, he can leave Lexington with his degree in hand. As the eldest scholarship player on the roster, Wenyen would once again provide crucial leadership. There won’t be a shortage of versatile bigs next year, but Wenyen proved his worth as an outside threat and energy guy off the bench. His experience would be invaluable.
Case for Staying in the NBA Draft: Wenyen’s not going to be drafted, but may be ready to explore his options in the G-League or overseas regardless. If PJ and/or Jarred come back, there are only so many minutes to go around, which may mean Wenyen decides to go ahead and cut bait and provide for his family.