Calipari: Kentucky F Washington (foot) set for NCAA opener

Reuters

Kentucky star forward PJ Washington, in a walking boot on Tuesday, is expected to play when the second-seeded Wildcats open play in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday against 15th-seeded Abilene Christian in the Midwest region.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said Washington sprained his foot in an SEC tournament semifinal loss to Tennessee on Saturday.

"We had him in the boot for a while," Calipari said Wednesday at a press conference in Jacksonville, Fla., the site of Thursday's game. "X-rays, everything was negative, MRIs. But we sent him to a specialist. Again, precaution. He wants to play. Well, if you know me, I'm like, wait a minute, let's go get one more level of this.

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"He's not here with us right now. He'll probably be here in an hour or so, but we sent him to the specialist to make sure that he can't harm himself. But we expect him to play."

Washington, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, is averaging 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds this season, both tops on the team. He was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection and is viewed as an NBA first-round draft choice should he decide to leave school.

He has earned multiple third-team All-America honors this season.

"If he shows up to play in a walking boot and Coach Cal lets him play in a walking boot, we might have a chance," Abilene Christian coach Joe Golding said. "If he takes the walking boot off, we've got a problem. He's really good. He's talented. He's one of eight problems we have on their roster. They're very, very talented.

"I honestly don't know what we're going to do. We're still trying to figure that out. He's an incredible talent. If he's making shots and he's scoring the ball on the block, then he's really tough to defend. So we've got to try to force him away from the rim as much as we can, but that's easier said than done. You've got four other pros on the floor with him, too."

--Field Level Media

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