By LARRY VAUGHT
PJ Washington certainly made an impact on the Kentucky basketball program and was rewarded when he was the 12th pick in last week’s NBA draft.
However, don’t underestimate the impact Washington’s father, Paul, has had on UK basketball, too.
First, he was a tireless recruiter for Kentucky after his son committed to the Wildcats and never gave up hope that Kevin Knox would sign with the Cats even when almost everyone else had him slated to attend Duke. Paul Washington stayed in touch with Knox’s parents and eventually Knox picked UK.
It was Paul Washington who first introduced Kentucky freshman point guard Tyrese Maxey to UK assistant coach Kenny Payne was Maxey was in elementary school.
If that’s not enough, he was also a factor in freshman Keion Brooks Jr. picking UK over other options. Paul Washington had tried to recruit Brooks to play for him when he was coaching Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. Brooks’ father also had a friend who went to college with Paul Washington.
“It kind of went full circle,” Keion Brooks Sr. said. “He was a great help through the whole recruiting process. I could bounce questions I was thinking about through him knowing he had gone through it with his son before he made his decision. It was great to have someone like him to use as a resource.”
Keion Brooks Sr. said his son was “young” when Paul Washington first saw the talent he had.
“He saw that Keion could play and when a guy like him has a son on the prep scene doing what he was doing, that gives him a lot of credit behind what he says,” Keion Brooks Sr. said. “We just talked a little bit about a lot of things and was a great help for a long time.”