The Kentucky basketball program advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2019 NCAA Tournament without star forward PJ Washington. The sophomore from Dallas was in a soft cast for the first two games of March Madness after he sprained his foot in the SEC semifinals against Tennessee.
Washington was seen on the sideline with the cast on a scooter, but he is no longer wearing a cast.
Washington’s cast has officially been removed, but his status for the game is still up in the air. Head coach John Calipari has not updated Washington’s status, but responded to the sophomore not wearing the cast on his Twitter page.
Calipari’s tweet makes it seem like Washington will be ready to play against Houston on Friday, March 29. ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg hinted that the sophomore forward would return for the Sweet 16 before his cast was even removed.
“I’m saying that my gut feeling is that he will make an appearance in the game,” Greenberg said about the Washington situation.
Washington played at an All-American level for the Wildcats this season, leading the team with 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. His return to the frontcourt gives Kentucky a huge advantage against Houston. Chris Harris Jr. is the only Cougar taller than 6-foot-8 on the roster, which gives Kentucky a huge advantage on the inside.
Washington plays well off of EJ Montgomery and Reid Travis as he gives the Wildcats the space that Calipari’s offense needs. His soft touch around the rim combined with his ability to grab offensive rebounds will cause Houston problems on the defensive end. The only problem for Kentucky will be Washington’s fitness level as he has not been able to run since injuring his foot over a month ago.
Houston is preparing for Kentucky as if Washington is going to play. Washington looks like he will be available to play against the Cougars, giving the Wildcats a better opportunity to reach the Elite Eight.