PJ Washington paid a visit to the Hawks on Friday.
If the Kentucky forward ran into Hawks point guard Trae Young at the training facility, there would be no need for a formal introduction. The two played AAU basketball together as youngsters.
“I’ve been knowing Trae since I was real young,” Washington said Friday. “I’m really cool with him. I played with him in fifth and sixth grade. Washington, from Texas, and Young, from Oklahoma, played on a combined team back in the day.
Now, there is a chance they could be reunited. Washington visited ahead of next week’s NBA draft. The Hawks have six selections, including three in the first round, and Washington is a possibility.
Washington has been unable to work out for NBA teams as he recovers from a foot injury. He said he has visited several teams and wanted to speak with the Hawks even if he couldn’t do court work.
The 6-foot-8 Washington could help fill a void as the Hawks have a need for a big wing player. He averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds as a sophomore at Kentucky last season. The early-entry candidate dramatically improved his 3-point shooting between his two collegiate seasons.
“The biggest thing to me was the way I shot the ball,” Washington said. “I feel like I had a big dip, and I just tried to eliminate that.
Washington shot 42.3 percent from 3-point range last season.
“They are young,” Washington said of his fit with the Hawks. “There are a lot of good young guys on this team. They run a lot of dribble handoffs with the 4 (power forward) and there is a lot of decision-making. That is an area I feel like I can come in and help right away and keep learning.”
Washington was a consensus third-team All-American and All-SEC player last season. It was a brief conversation with Kentucky coach John Calipari as to the decision to forgo his two seasons of collegiate eligibility.
“I talked to Coach Cal and he basically said ‘Your time is now,’” Washington said. “So I listened to him.”
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