• 57°

Herro, Johnson to remain in NBA Draft

LEXINGTON (KT) — Keldon Johnson is following in the footsteps of Tyler Herro and PJ Washington.

Nearly a week after declaring for the next level, Johnson announced his plans to stay in the NBA Draft, ending his collegiate career. Johnson started 36 games last season and averaged 13.5 points per game. He averaged 5.9 rebounds per game and was third on the team in both categories.

“Big Blue Nation, thank you for my time here at Kentucky,” Johnson said. “I really enjoyed it. I had a wonderful experience. You guys made for the best year I could ever have. I really appreciate you guys taking me in as family and one of your own and supporting me through the thick and thin of the season and supporting this team. I want to thank my coaches: coach (John Calipari), coach (Tony) Barbee, coach (John) Robic, Coach Joel (Justus) and coach (Kenny Payne) for just always being there for me and having my back. I want to thank my family and my friends back in South Hill (Virginia) for always being there for me when I need a hand.”

Calipari supported Johnson’s decision and said the Kentucky guard “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,” Calipari said. “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.”

The NBA Combine is set for May 15-19 in Chicago and the NBA Draft will be June 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn New York.

———

Jemarl Baker has decided to transfer and finish his career elsewhere.

The redshirt freshman guard entered the NCAA transfer portal on Wednesday and can transfer to another program without any restrictions. Baker becomes the third player to leave the program this week. Herro and Johnson opted to remain in the NBA Draft and declaring last week.

After consulting with his family, John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff, Baker decided “it’s in my best interest to continue my academic and basketball career elsewhere.”

“I’ve made life-long relationships with my brothers and the staff at Kentucky and have improved so much as a player,” Baker said. “I’m thankful for the opportunities it’s given me to be a part of this historic program. … I want to thank the Big Blue Nation for supporting me during my two years at Kentucky,” Baker said. “You are truly the best fans in the country and I’ve enjoyed my time here wearing the Blue and White.”

Calipari offered to help Baker land on his feet.

“We haven’t had many players leave us but in all cases, we stay in touch and continue to try to help,” Calipari said. “In Jemarl’s case, his injury in his first year and even the early part of this year set him back a little bit, but I still believe he’s an impact player who can score and defend. He’s a better defender than people give him credit for, and we knew we could play him this season in any situation because we knew he was always going to defend. I appreciate everything he did for this program. Like any kid that leaves us, I’ll be watching his career from afar. We’ll always be here for him.”

Baker sat out his freshman season because of a knee injury but played in 28 games for the Wildcats last year. He missed the first eight games, but appeared in 28 games and tallied eight points in a win over Wofford in the NCAA Tournament. He finished his Kentucky career with 64 points, 15 rebounds, 12 assists, and 13 3-pointers.

———

LEXINGTON (KT) — Tyler Herro’s college career is over.

The Kentucky guard announced Tuesday he plans to remain in the NBA Draft instead of leaving open the possibility of returning for a second season.

“After exploring my options a little bit more and getting some immediate feedback, I’ve decided to remain in the draft,” he said. “My hope was always to remain in the draft and begin my lifelong dream of playing in the NBA, but we wanted to be absolutely certain that taking that next step was in my best interests. After the information my family and I received, I believe that time is now and I’m ready to jump into that next stage of my life with both feet.”

Herro joins PJ Washington on a list of players from last year’s team who have declared for the Draft without an option to return for a second season. Keldon Johnson plans to test the waters and has until May 29 to make a final determination on his future. Guards Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickly have announced they will return.

Kentucky coach John Calipari supported Herro’s decision to take the next step.

“As I said last week, Tyler is wired and driven like few other players I’ve coached,” Calipari said. “Tyler was such a pleasure to coach this year because he didn’t let anyone else define what type of player he was; he defined what type of player he was going to be. He made the decision and put in the effort to become a complete basketball player who can score on the bounce, who can shoot it, who can defend and who can rebound. It’s his total package that will make Tyler successful at the next level. I’ve loved coaching him and I can’t wait to see what he does at the next level.”

Herro helped lead the Wildcats to a 30-7 record and was Kentucky’s second-leading scorer behind PJ Washington. Herro averaged 14 points per game and the Wildcats compiled a 19-0 record when Herro scored 15 or more points per game. He shot 39.7 percent from the 3-point line and shot a blistering 93.5 percent from the free-throw line. Herro made 70 of his last 72 free-throw attempts.

“This year was everything I had hoped for and more,” Herro said. “Coach Cal and the staff challenged me to become a complete basketball player, and I truly believe I’ve done that and improved in all areas of my game. I can’t wait to take what I’ve learned to the next level.”

The NBA Draft Combine will be May 15-19 in Chicago. The NBA Draft is set for June 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.