By Lewis Flanagan III, The Dallas Weekly
PJ Washington, #25 | Sophomore, Forward, Kentucky, Dallas, TX
Several of the players that shaped this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament have Dallas ties, but few did as much to shape the season as Kentucky forward PJ Washington. After reconsidering his decision to declare for the NBA draft after his freshman season, Washington set out to prove himself one of college basketball’s elite; by bringing the national championship title back to Lexington. Though bloodied and incapable from preventing Kentucky from an early exit, Washington can hold his head high; having more than demonstrated his point.
PJ Washington jumped onto the national basketball scene when he transferred from Frisco High School to the renowned basketball powerhouse, Findlay Prep in 2014. The son of two former college basketball players, Washington appeared a boy amongst men at 6-foot 8-inches. A perineal AAU star, Washington rose to a number 12 national ranking and being named to the McDonald’s All-American Team.
Washington was an instant impact on his team, averaging in double-digit point figures over his 30 starts as a true freshman. His agility and athleticism allowed him to rack up 57 assists and 31 blocked shots en route to becoming his team’s third-highest scorer, and leading Kentucky in double-doubles.
Despite rumors that his draft-stock would be high, PJ Washington withdrew himself from draft eligibility last offseason. Though he had played well among the best, Washington felt it best to return for another season- leaving no room for doubt. Washington reached personal bests in nearly every measurable category on his path to the national championship tournament. Again, he led his team in double-doubles, blocked shots, and garnered All-American nods nationwide. Unfortunately for Kentucky, the ankle injury Washington suffered against Abeline Christian early in the tournament would effectively end their season.
It seems the Kentucky Wildcats ended their season in photo negative, but the image of PJ Washington racing to the rack will never fade. Washington may not have gotten his trophy, but NBA scouts, fans, and his future competition all get the picture.