With the NBA draft in the rearview mirror, another batch of John Calipari’s one-and-done players are joining professional ranks. While UK fans may have grown accustomed to the Cats’ annual changing of personnel, each of Calipari’s teams has a unique blend of personalities who make a team special, and last year was no exception.
Of the Wildcats from last year’s team who have departed for the NBA, here are some of the most memorable moments and characteristics that exemplified what made them special.
Few players under Calipari have benefited more from a second season than P.J. Washington. As a result, there were fewer things UK fans enjoyed more than seeing Washington break out his mean-mug, because it meant it was time for him to take over.
Cats fans will miss Washington next season for the leap he made between his freshman and sophomore years, but at least he left BBN with some highlight real plays, and some fun faces to go along with them.
Reid Travis—Mature to his bones
A different kind of one-and-done, graduate transfer Reid Travis brought a level of experience few players have had in Calipari’s UK tenure. Travis had a level of maturity, both physically and mentally, that led the incoming freshmen to describe him as a “grown man.”
His maturity is exemplified by this play against North Carolina, where instead of staring down his defender on an and-1, he bowed his head to avoid getting in an altercation:
This season, Travis was the consummate professional in a sea of young faces, and Kentucky fans appreciate what he brought beyond raw skill to make this team a contender.
Keldon Johnson—Sticking out his tongue
Keldon Johnson didn’t quite live up to the expectations he had coming into Lexington, but when he was on, boy was he fun to watch. Johnson had seemingly endless energy, celebrating after every basket regardless of whether it was a tough layup or a three-pointer. But, one thing he saved for special occasions was sticking out his tongue.
The two most notable times Johnson did this were when UK traveled to Knoxville to take on Tennessee and he stuck his tongue at the Volunteers student section, and when he did so in the middle of a neck-and-neck home game against Arkansas, seen here:
— David Scott (@Finna_Go_HAM) February 27, 2019
The latter moment sparked debate over whether he was doing this to Instagram model Brittany Renner, but he eventually said it was directed at P.J. Washington to try and lift his teammate’s spirits. In any case, Cats fans will miss the passion and flare Johnson brought to last year’s team.
Tyler Herro—”I’m a bucket”
In that same Arkansas game that produced Keldon’s “I love you,” BBN received possibly the most memorable moment of the season. Tyler Herro, while scoring one of his career-high 29 points, told an Arkansas player “I’m a bucket.”
While a bit of a weird thing to say, BBN got the gist of it. Herro got buckets, and he had a confidence in his game that took him from a presumed multi-year college player to a lottery pick after his freshman season.
All these players leave a void for the Cats in 2019-20, but there’s a colorful cast of characters stepping in their places, and hopefully, they’ll be just as entertaining and endearing as the ones moving on.