Kentucky men’s basketball freshman guard TyTy Washington Jr. will pursue a career in the NBA. The freshman announced Wednesday he will declare for the 2022 NBA Draft and plans to forgo his remaining collegiate eligibility.
“First and foremost, I’d like to thank God for the opportunities He’s provided me and my family,” Washington said. “To Big Blue Nation, I’d like to express my gratitude to all of you for embracing me and my family like your own this past year. From Coach Cal, to everyone involved with Kentucky basketball, I can’t thank you enough for the support. The experience and the knowledge I can carry forward from my time here at Kentucky will help me be a better man and player moving forward.
“The fans have supported me through the ups and downs of this past season, and I am proud to say I will always be a member of Big Blue Nation,” Washington said. “After discussing my options with Coach Cal, my parents and family, I’ve decided to make myself eligible for the upcoming NBA Draft. Leaving Kentucky won’t be easy, but I am ready for the challenges ahead and know I am ready based on my experiences here in Lexington. Thank you again to the fans, the coaches, all the supporters of Kentucky Basketball and most importantly the people who helped me get here, my mom and my dad.”
Washington proved to be one of the best freshmen in the country, earning All-Southeastern Conference Second Team honors by both the league’s coaches and media members. He was a five-time SEC Freshman of the Week selection, a semifinalist for the Jerry West Award and a finalist for the Kyle Macy Award honoring the nation’s best freshman.
“TyTy is a play-making guard who has the ability to play on the ball or off and still impact the game in a variety of ways,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “We’ve had a number of players leave here and be successful at the next level who are in a similar mode as TyTy. I’m excited for TyTy and his family because I know with his work ethic, his ability to play within himself and allow the game to come to him, that he will have the opportunity to be another one of our guys to find success in that league. TyTy’s best days as a basketball player are in front of him and he and his family know that they have my full support as he chases his dreams.”
Washington averaged 12.5 points, 3.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 45.1% from the field and 35.0% from 3-point range.
He has a savviness to his game that is veteran-like. He can score with the best of them and had five 20-point games. He posted double-doubles this season in both points and rebounds and points and assists, becoming the first Wildcat to do so since Ashton Hagans in the 2019-20 season.
When called upon to take the lead role as point guard, he broke a school record held by UK’s first-ever No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. With starting point guard Sahvir Wheeler out vs. Georgia with a neck injury, Washington made his first start at point guard and put on a show. He scored 17 points and broke John Wall’s single-game school record with 17 assists. Wall had 16 against Hartford on Dec. 29, 2009.
The Phoenix native finished the regular season ranked first in the SEC and 31st nationally with a 2.43 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Washington provided a little bit of everything to the Wildcats this season. He hit multiple 3-pointers in 10 games and dished out at least three assists in 21 games.
Since Calipari joined the Kentucky program for the 2009-10 season, UK has produced 43 NBA Draft picks over 12 seasons, far and away more than any other school. Included in the 43 are 32 first-rounders, three No. 1 overall picks and 21 lottery selections.
Of the 30 players at UK in the Calipari era who have declared for the NBA Draft after their freshman seasons, 27 (does not include the late Terrence Clarke) have been first-round draft picks. All 30 have played in an NBA game.
Of the 70 players who have finished their college careers at Kentucky under Calipari (through the 2020-21 season), 43 were selected in the NBA Draft, a 61.4% success rate. Another eight of those made the NBA, and the majority of the rest were walk-ons.
Calipari’s players are not only reaching the next level, but they are also succeeding when they do. Since 2010, eight of his players have garnered 28 All-Star selections. Derrick Rose (from Memphis) was named league MVP in 2011. Six of his players have been tabbed All-NBA (Rose, Wall, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Julius Randle), three have been named NBA Rookie of the Year (Rose, Tyreke Evans and Towns), and 15 players from Calipari’s first 11 teams at Kentucky have made the NBA All-Rookie teams.