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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: What is or Will Be Keldon Johnson’s Legacy?

Of the three guys who are going to be drafted in the 1st round of the NBA Draft, the one that intrigues me the most is Keldon Johnson.  PJ Washington is a 2-year success story who I imagine will have a very solid NBA career.  Tyler Herro is a little bit more of an unknown but falls in the Devin Booker range of guys who clearly showed improvement, have a noticeable skill set, and in the right situation will be successful.  But Keldon comes into the draft with all of these questions:

-What is his biggest strength?  What can he do in the NBA that will separate him?

-If he fall outside the Top 20, as many projections suggest, would he have benefited from another year at UK?

-As the most highly touted freshman, would we consider his legacy a disappointment if he doesn’t succeed in the NBA?

Keldon has this very strange resume and reputation.  He averaged 13.5 points as a true freshman on an Elite 8 team.  He had some amazing performances and was a key factor most of the season.  He had zero off the court issues, was a fan favorite, liked by teammates.  He was the kind of guy you pulled for so badly.  But he also had a lot of holes in his season.  Bad performances, some pouting on the court.  He never seemed like a “leader”.  The potential was clearly there but he rarely seemed to be reaching that potential.  And for that, he will always be considered a middle tier Calipari one and done I would think.

His draft status also didn’t improve in his time at Kentucky and you could say it even declined, assuming he falls outside the Top 20.  And like it or not, a guy’s draft status matters in this era.  Whereas PJ and Herro both improved their status over the year, as guys like Bledsoe, Booker, Ulis, Gilgeous-Alexander, and others have, Keldon didn’t get that kind of bump.  So despite the fact he will be a 19-year-old kid getting drafted in the 1st round of the NBA Draft, many will look down on that point.  And that isn’t really fans fault to have that opinion because that is culture that Calipari has created and cultivated and promoted. 

So that is where the mixed emotions come from.  I want Keldon Johnson to reach that potential and become an NBA superstar like so many other UK players.  He is incredibly easy to root for.  But I also watched him play in 38 games this year.  You don’t have to be a basketball expert to comfortably say that his game doesn’t appear ready for the NBA yet.  I worry that if he washes out of the NBA that he will be a forgotten UK player despite having a very good freshman season.  So where do we stand on Keldon Johnson, his legacy as a UK one and done player, and confidence level of him going into the NBA?  

Article written by Bryan the Intern

33 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: What is or Will Be Keldon Johnson’s Legacy?



  1. Rod Crandler
    10:12 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    “Legacy” is probably not a term I would use for him. Probably a good kid but just always seemed like he was doing the bare minimum to get through the season so he could move on to the next level. That was my impression at least but what do I know.



    • Smyrna_Cat
      10:48 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

      I am not sure a one-year player, other than perhaps AD, as a “legacy.”



    • Bleedblueky
      2:49 pm June 13, 2019 Permalink

      Every player has his own personality and looks to me Keldon had a very fun one year at UK (especially at the locker room after games lol) plus BBN had enjoyed him as well so no complaints and wish him the BEST.



  2. John Capilari
    10:14 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    Meh. Loved him in press conferences.



  3. jmilburn
    10:17 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    HE DEFF WOULD OF BENEFITED FROM ANOTHER YEAR ESPECIALLY BC NEXT YEARS DRAFT CLASS IS SO WEAK! COULD OF EASILY BEEN A TOP 10 PICK! IM STILL CONFUSED TO WHY HE WANTED TO LEAVE SO BAD!HE LITERALLY THREW AWAY AT LEAST 10-12 MORE MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR I HOPE IT WORTH IT. ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS STAY ONE MORE YEAR AND YOU WOULD OF BEEN A LOTTERY PICK FOR SURE!! THIS REMINDS ME OR ARCHIE GOODWIN DECISION AND HE WILL BE IN THE G LEAGUE BASICALLY HIS WHOLE CAREER. HE WILL GET CALLED UP BUT HE WILL NOT BE A PLAYER THAT LAST IN THIS LEAGUE ONE MORE YEAR WOULD OF TRULY T= HELPED THIS KID! I DONT KNOW WHY PARENTS ARN’T MORE INVOLVED AND IF THEY ARE THEY DEFF FAILED AT THIS DECISION!!



    • Cokely53
      10:32 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

      Why are you yelling



    • JTHinton
      10:58 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

      I agree. He could be top 5 next year like TH



    • T-wah
      11:22 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

      Would have. Would have. Would…have.



    • DelrayCat
      1:12 pm June 13, 2019 Permalink

      This is a ridiculously stupid take. Perhaps..perhaps…Keldon might leave some money on the table over the long run by being drafted now in the 18-30 range instead of coming back and being a lottery pick. But unless he became a top 5 pick next, that lost income is basically 3-4 million TOTAL over his first contract. After that it is on him to make the big bucks by becoming a player worthy of being paid well on the 2nd contract. The difference between another 7 months at UK versus being in a pro system for year 1 is negligible in terms of player development over the course of a career. This argument creeps up time and time again from salty UK fans, but it doesn’t hold water imo.



    • syrin23
      3:51 pm June 13, 2019 Permalink

      Except it does DelRay. The NBA doesn’t develop players, and certainly none like Keldon. EVERY team in the country at every level has a 6’6″ player with marginal athleticism and streaky shooting who plays below average defense. That’s Keldon. What separates him from the crowd or makes him worth the time for a team to invest into his development? Superior height? Superior defense? Superior athleticism? Superior shooting? Keldon has NONE of those. NONE! At UK, we have seen it many times where a player improves substantially from year to year then goes onto a successful NBA career. Keldon is likely the most recent version of James Young but worse.



  4. Dowser
    10:19 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    I’ve said from the beginning… he could drop out of the first round. But he made the right decision, because he doesn’t start on next years team. And, apparently this is a weak draft after Zion.



  5. scwhite9
    10:20 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    He will always be one of my favorites. At the Women’s Clinic he broke the rules so I could get a picture with him. He was both kind and funny. He will grow up. And, when he does, he will progress. You can tell he has a competitive nature. He probably could have benefited from another year, but I trust he will know how to succeed in life.



  6. Oliver Klozoff
    10:24 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    His half-court buzzer beater against Seton Hall is what I will always remember him for.



    • JoeMoney333
      11:11 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

      Best UK shot ruined by a loss.



    • Carolina Blue is past tense for CAROLINA BLOWS
      11:58 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

      More so than Sean’s against Duke? I would rethink that statement if I were you.



  7. Cokely53
    10:36 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    I think he suffered from the hype machine. I usually agree with MJs takes on most players but I never got this one. The whole KSR crew said he would be in the wall AD KAT level or just shy of that and that’s not fair to put those expectations on a kid. He will be looked at as a disappointment because of that when in fact he should be seen as a solid player with first round talent. It’s all about expectations and he was given some lofty ones that he never had a chance to live up to. He was never going to be that great and I think his play showed it when he disappeared from game to game.



    • DelrayCat
      1:21 pm June 13, 2019 Permalink

      Like most freshmen, he didn’t have the body (yet). Unless you are 7 ft tall, a skinny kid weighing 190 lbs at 6-6 is too easily pushed around. His game was very similar to Charles Matthews who ended up with a decent college career, but only after he matured and gained weight. However, Keldon still can be labeled with “potential” and is worthy of a first round pick. Poor Matthews will be lucky to ever make a team now that he stayed in college long enough to suffer a severe injury. That is why so many with unproven potential go pro early…to risk not completely exposing themselves as average or even getting hurt. Think Jared Vanderbilt.



  8. N-UR-i
    10:37 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    I am not being negative or a smartass. He will have zero legacy. In 5-6 years I wont remember his name.



    • bluemark
      10:50 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

      Who is Keldon Johnson???? All kidding aside, I agree with this comment. He will have about the same legacy as James Young, Jared Vanderbilt or Archie Goodwin, which is to say NONE. He did nothing to distinguish himself in this age of five-star rent-a-players.



  9. cats646
    10:40 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    The most athletic person I’ve seen that couldn’t make a layup.



    • chardun20
      10:49 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

      Got his shot blocked a lot as well. I rooted for Keldon to be really good, he was at times, in consistent.



  10. JTHinton
    10:57 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    Hope I’m wrong but I think he will not pan out at the next level … but pulling for the kid nonetheless!



    • DelrayCat
      1:23 pm June 13, 2019 Permalink

      He also could be Bradley Beal good if he improves his 3 pt shooting by 5%.



  11. kentuckyrld
    11:11 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    Simply put, he is just not as good as everyone seemed to think. I would like for him to have returned for another season but i doubt there would have been any improvement in his game.



    • jr
      11:38 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

      agreed. but he was a great kid, and teammate. but I don’t think any one and done will have a legacy unless you win it all, or get the program back after years of sucking…



  12. Bluebloodtoo
    11:31 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    KJ seems like the type that has always leaned on his personality for success. Not sure he really knows how to work hard or persevere through setbacks. Hopefully he will learn these skills in the next few years because he definitely has the talent to succeed and he seems to be a genuinely good person. I wish him the best of luck in his journeys.



    • NYCCatsFan
      12:34 pm June 13, 2019 Permalink

      No one starts at UK based on their personality



    • Bluebloodtoo
      3:04 pm June 13, 2019 Permalink

      Clearly, so maybe that’s not what i meant…?



  13. StuckinLville
    11:36 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    I have to agree with the first comment. There is no legacy. We didn’t win the SEC title, or championship, or make it to the final four. He’s just another player that rolled through UK who could have used another year in school. He’s a great kid though and is on KAT level friendly. Wish him nothing but the best.



  14. natedaddy
    11:49 am June 13, 2019 Permalink

    For me, Keldon is one of the top 5 most frustrating UK players to watch. The talent is clearly there, just needs to put it all together on a consistent basis. I also think that it’s not out of the question that he falls to the second round of the draft.



  15. bigblue2284
    12:31 pm June 13, 2019 Permalink

    No legacy at all, you must be extremely bored to write this article.



  16. DelrayCat
    1:24 pm June 13, 2019 Permalink

    Salty fans have the dumbest takes.



  17. jim tom
    1:53 pm June 13, 2019 Permalink

    What legacy. Zero