Former Kentucky Star Tyrese Maxey Signs with LeBron James' Agent, Rich Paul

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2020

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - MARCH 03:   Tyrese Maxey #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball against against the Tennessee Volunteers at Rupp Arena on March 03, 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Kentucky Wildcats freshman guard Tyrese Maxey is signing with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on Thursday. 

Maxey declared for the 2020 NBA draft on April 6.  

"My thoughts were that we would be playing for a national championship [today]," he told Malika Andrews of ESPN after his announcement. "Although we're unable to do that due to what our country is experiencing, I felt like this was the day to declare for the draft to make it as special as I thought today would be."

Kentucky head coach John Calipari praised Maxey after the prospect made his announcement, saying he pushed the freshman harder than any of his teammates:

John Calipari @UKCoachCalipari

I was harder on @TyreseMaxey than any player this season, and there’s a reason. One, he’s a great kid with a confidence in his ability that does not waver. Two, he has a potential that he has only begun to realize. And three, Tyrese needed to be challenged to take that next step. https://t.co/4sM2JMGL0N

Maxey responded by averaging 14.0 points and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 42.7 percent from the field—though just 29.2 percent from three. But he showed enough potential to be a projected lottery pick in the 2020 draft. 

The Athletic's Sam Vecenie had him as the No. 12 player on his April 2 big board, and B/R's Jonathan Wasserman projected him to be the No. 12 selection, to the Sacramento Kings, in his most recent mock draft. 

Wasserman noted Maxey has "clear shot-making skills" and added "previous Kentucky guards have blossomed with more NBA space." He also noted that his "lack of explosiveness and playmaking lower his perceived ceiling, but his pull-up game, floater, advanced finishing and NBA body hint at a high floor."

As for Kentucky, his departure was just one of many in an offseason exodus that few teams could recover from easily:

Jeff Borzello @jeffborzello

• Immanuel Quickley: NBA • Tyrese Maxey: NBA • Nick Richards: NBA • Ashton Hagans: NBA • EJ Montgomery: Entered NBA draft • Nate Sestina: No more eligibility • Johnny Juzang: Transferred to UCLA • Kahlil Whitney: Left school in January, entered NBA draft https://t.co/x3cDNP8Tvs

But the Wildcats also have an incoming class that features three 5-star recruits (Terrence Clarke, BJ Boston and Devin Askew) and three 4-star prospects (Isaiah Jackson, Lance Ware, Cam'Ron Fletcher), per 247Sports' composite rankings

Never underestimate Calipari on the recruiting trail.