It was not coincidental that Monday was the day Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey announced his intention to enter this year’s NBA Draft and forego his remaining college eligibility. The national championship game was scheduled to be played Monday.
“I feel like we would have been in this game today,” Maxey said in an interview posted online by ESPN. “And that’s one reason why I wanted to make the decision today.”
Maxey said he had the date April 6 posted on a wall in his room on the UK campus.
“I saw it every single morning when I woke up and brushed my teeth,” he said. “That was a goal of mine.”
In his one season for Kentucky, Maxey averaged 14.0 points and 34.5 minutes. The latter was the fourth most by any Southeastern Conference player.
Maxey had a knack for playing well in big games. In the season’s opening game, his 26 points led No. 2 Kentucky to a 69-62 victory over No. 1 Michigan State. He later scored a season-high 27 points in UK’s 78-70 overtime victory over archrival Louisville.
In what turned out to become Kentucky’s final game, he took over at point guard for the absent Ashton Hagans. His seven assists and only one turnover in 38-plus minutes helped UK defeat Florida 71-70.
Maxey’s mother said the decision to enter this season’s NBA Draft was not made lightly.
“A lot of thought, of course,” was part of the decision-making, Denise Maxey said. “A lot of prayers. A lot of family chats around it.
“I think my son really grew up there in Lexington. He left here a kid, in my mind. And by the end of the season, although it was unfortunately cut short, I saw him really grow up. So, a lot of that played a factor in his decision.”
Maxey was named to the SEC’s all-freshman team and second-team all-league.
In the news release announcing Maxey’s decision to the enter the draft, he expressed regret about the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic. But, he expressed satisfaction with the 2019-20 season.
“This season was everything I signed up for,” he said in the news release. “I know I’m a better player and man for embracing the challenge of playing for Kentucky.
“It’s time for my next challenge, though. My dream has always been to play in the NBA and I know I’m prepared for this because I’m Wildcat made.”
Nwora enters NBA draft after All-America season
LOUISVILLE — Louisville forward Jordan Nwora has announced on social media that he will enter the NBA draft.
Nwora was selected to The AP All-America third team as a junior. His decision to turn pro was expected after limited participation in last year’s NBA combine because of a knee injury. He returned to the Cardinals and was named Atlantic Coast Conference preseason player of the year before going on to average 18 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
The Buffalo, New York, native said on his verified Twitter account that the abrupt end to the season was “heartbreaking and awful” because he believed No. 14 Louisville (24-7) was ready to win the NCAA championship. But he noted that community health and safety should be the priority because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nwora called Cardinal teammates and coaches his family in his post and added, “I will proudly represent Louisville wherever I go.”