P.J. Washington

Kentucky's P.J. Washington slams home two points in an SEC Tournament loss to Tennessee. The sophomore All-American declared for the NBA Draft on Tuesday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Kentucky sophomore P.J. Washington will enter the NBA Draft, according to a statement he released on social media and through the school Tuesday morning.

The following message was posted on the Washington's Twitter account on Tuesday morning:

Washington was a consensus third-team All-American after averaging 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds a game, both career highs for the Wildcats. He began to truly blossom in the second half of the season, scoring in double figures in 19 of his final 20 games while shooting 53.1 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from the three-point range.

“When I decided to come back to school a year ago, I knew there were things I still wanted to accomplish so I challenged myself to become a better all-around player, to develop more consistency and to become a leader for this team," Washington said in a statement. "Although we fell a couple games short of our ultimate goal, I’ll never forget the season we had with my brothers. We did some special things this season and made memories that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life."

Washington will hire an agent and plans to stay in the draft, foregoing his final two seasons of college eligibility. He projects as a late first-round draft pick in most projections. NBADraft.net puts him at No. 24 overall.

UK head coach John Calipari also posted on Twitter on Tuesday morning about Washington's decision.

“I’m so proud of P.J. and what he’s accomplished over the last two seasons,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “When he was in this position last year, he had to determine what was best for him. He looked at this and said, I want to come back and work on my game, to be coached, to become one of the best players in the game and to help us be one of those teams in the mix. And I told him, do not come back to school unless you’re going to drag your teammates with you. And boy did he ever.

“P.J. transformed everything about his game. He became a national player of the year candidate, he showed his full set of his skills and he improved his stock, while helping us become one of the best teams in the country. What I’m most proud of is how P.J. developed into a leader. Every kid is on their own timetable, and the one that P.J. followed – which was the best path for him – has put him in a position to do some special things at the next level. I can’t wait to watch his continued growth.”

The 2019 NBA Draft Combine will take place May 15-19 in Chicago, although it hasn’t been determined yet if Washington will participate. The 2019 NBA Draft is June 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Since Calipari joined the Wildcat program for the 2009-10 season, UK has produced 35 NBA Draft picks, including 26 first-rounders, three No. 1 overall picks and 19 lottery selections.

“I want to thank God, Coach Cal and the staff with challenging me to become the player that I am," Washington said. "They believed in my potential and never accepted anything less than my best. Thank you helping me grow into a man that’s ready for this next step. To my teammates: Wow, we have been through so much. Thank you for putting your trust in me and for inspiring me through every workout, practice and game. I’ll never forget this group. And to everyone at UK: Thank you for your support and for helping a kid from Dallas see his dreams come true.”

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