TyTy Washington drafted No. 29 overall by Memphis Grizzlies


Michael Clubb

Kentucky Wildcats guard TyTy Washington Jr. (3) celebrates a teammate’s three pointer during the UK vs Georgia men’s basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 92-77. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

Kentucky freshman TyTy Washington Jr. became the second Wildcat to hear his name called in the 2022 NBA Draft, being selected No. 22 overall by the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.

Washington becomes the next in a long series of “one-and-dones” to have played under Kentucky head coach John Calipari, with the term assigned to any highly touted prospect that commits to the program with the knowledge that they intend to enter the NBA after completing their collegiate eligibility requirements, regardless of the results of the season itself.

The young star averaged 12.5 points per game as well as 3.5 and 3.9 rebounds and assists per game respectively.

While Washington struggled in his inaugural collegiate game against Duke in the Champions Classic, he would not dip below double-digit points until UK’s second loss of the season at Notre Dame on December 11.

Washington’s highest scoring game in the blue and white came on January 15, when Kentucky throttled then No. 22 Tennessee 107-79 inside Rupp Arena when he scored 28 points, shooting 76% from the field.

He very nearly surpassed that total in UK’s first game of the SEC Tournament against Vanderbilt, but he finished with 25 points instead, shooting 80% from beyond the arc in the effort.

Washington wasn’t only a scorer while at Kentucky, with the guard also breaking a school record previously set by John Wall, recording a program high total of assists in a single game with 17 against Georgia on January 8.

The total didn’t just break the program record, with the feat also being enough to put Washington seventh for most single game assists in all SEC conference history.

In the process of setting the record, Washington also became the first Wildcat since Ashton Hagans to record a double-double with assists and rebounds as well as points and rebounds in a single season.

While destined to be a pivotal piece on a team with championship aspirations, Washington battled nagging injuries throughout his collegiate career, hindering him in what he was able to do, namely in games like the 76-63 loss in Knoxville against Tennessee that saw the guard amass just four points.

The Wildcats’ season would go on to come to an abrupt end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against No. 15 Saint Peter’s, with Washington only able to score five points with one assist and two rebounds in the losing effort.

With the loss, even before official confirmation, the consensus was that Washington would enter the draft, with that being confirmed by the star himself in early April.

Though drafted by the Grizzlies, Washington will not find himself in Memphis by the time he makes his professional debut, with the Grizz having traded the pick to the Houston Rockets for Wendell Moore, who was drafted No. 26 overall.

Despite the swap, Washington looks to turn his sights towards his future and make a difference on a rebuilding Houston team alongside the likes of Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and currently the aforementioned Wildcat fan favorite Wall.

The Rockets finished the 2021-2022 season 20-62, dead last in the Western Conference and 14 games out of a play-in spot, making them a team ripe for a young star looking to make a name for himself in the league.

While Houston’s roster is likely to continue to undergo changes as the offseason progresses, Washington will look to be the new face of a franchise who has been without direction since losing both Russell Westbrook and James Harden, with the latter being the heart and soul of “H-Town” for years prior to his departure.