Kentucky's Keldon Johnson to Stay in 2019 NBA Draft, Forgo Sophomore Season

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2019

Kentucky's Keldon Johnson celebrates after making a 3-point basket during the first half of a men's NCAA tournament college basketball Midwest Regional semifinal game against Houston Friday, March 29, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Kentucky Wildcats freshman guard Keldon Johnson announced Wednesday he's staying in the 2019 NBA draft class.

Johnson, who declared for the draft last week after one season at UK, provided the update on Twitter:

The 19-year-old Oak Hill Academy (Virginia) product was always expected to become a one-and-done college player after arriving to Kentucky as a 5-star prospect and the No. 13 overall recruit in the 2018 class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

Now his quick jump to the NBA is confirmed after he was named the SEC Freshman of the Year for the 2018-19 season.

Johnson averaged 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting 46.3 percent from the field, including 38.1 percent from three, across 37 appearances for the Wildcats.

UK head coach John Calipari released a statement about the guard's decision to remain in June 20's draft at Barclays Center:

"Keldon has a game that will translate well to the next level. Of all the players in this draft, he could have one of the best transitions physically and athletically. He has all the tools you look for in a player in that league, and what makes him special is his joy for the game and his passion to get better. He improved in all phases of his game this year and will continue to grow in the NBA. I'll miss seeing that smile he brought to the gym every day but I'm happy for Keldon as he pursues his dream."

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman projected the Orlando Magic to select Johnson with the No. 17 overall pick in his latest mock draft, writing:

"Johnson's appeal began fading over the final months of the season when he was making fewer threes—and plays in general—within the half court. However, with 6'6" size, strength and athleticism, he still provides plenty to like with his driving and slashing, advanced runner game, defensive potential and shot-making accuracy."

A strong showing during the draft process could push Johnson into the lottery.

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