LEXINGTON, Ky. (WBKO) --- Kentucky men’s basketball freshman guard Tyler Herro announced Friday that he plans to submit his name for the 2019 NBA Draft and hire an agent. Under new NCAA rules, Herro can sign with an NCAA-certified agent, receive feedback and still return to school.
Herro will have until May 29 (10 days after the NBA Draft Combine) to make a final decision as to whether he wishes to remain in the draft or return to Kentucky.
“My freshman season at Kentucky was incredible,” Herro said. “As Coach Cal and the staff promised, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This staff challenged me to be the best version of myself. I’m proud of what we accomplished as a team and how I elevated my game personally. After talking with my family, Coach Cal and the staff, I’ve decided to test the waters and see where I stand in the NBA Draft process.
“In order to make the most informed decision possible, but also leave my options open, I will be taking advantage of new rules allowing me to work with an agent. If the information I receive supports that I’m likely to be a high draft pick, I want to be upfront with everyone in Big Blue Nation that I will keep my name in the NBA Draft. If the evaluations tell me I need to elevate my game further, I would be thrilled to return to Kentucky and help this team compete for a championship.
“Whatever happens over the next couple months, I want to thank BBN for its support this season and throughout this process. I love this school, I love playing on the Kentucky stage and I am grateful that my family is now part of the Kentucky family.”
Herro is the third underclassman from the 2018-19 Wildcats to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft, which will be held June 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Sophomore forward PJ Washington announced he will be entering the NBA Draft and plans to remain in the draft, ending a decorated two-year career at Kentucky. Freshman guard Keldon Johnson has also declared for the draft but is keeping his options open to possibly return to UK.
Herro has not yet determined his final status and will utilize new NCAA rules that allow players to sign with NCAA-certified agents. As in years past, players can submit paperwork to receive evaluations from the NBA and participate – if invited – in the NBA Draft Combine.
“I think Tyler is making the best decision for him and his family and using the resources that the NCAA now allows. I’m in full support of Tyler’s decision,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “What I’m most proud of is how Tyler became not only an efficient offensive player but an efficient defensive player. He’s wired and driven like only a few others I’ve coached. I’ve had an absolute ball coaching him. Whatever he decides to do in the end, I will support.”
Herro was one of the key pieces behind Kentucky’s 30-7 season that included seven victories vs. Associated Press Top 25 opponents and culminated in a berth in the Elite Eight.
The 6-foot-5 guard was not only UK’s second-leading scorer (14.0 points per game) and leading 3-pointer shooter (60 3-point field goals), he was one of UK’s most important pieces to its success. The Wildcats were 19-0 this season when Herro scored 15 or more points and 11-7 when he didn’t. In Kentucky’s 30 wins, he averaged a team-high 14.9 points, 49.5-percent shooting and 39.7 percent from 3-point range.
Herro proved to be much more than just a shooter, as many labeled him to be when he got to Kentucky. He bucked those notions by becoming a lethal scorer from anywhere on the floor, a much-improved defender (40 steals and a lockdown defensive performance against the NCAA’s all-time 3-pointer leader, Wofford’s Fletcher Magee), an underrated rebounder (4.5 boards per game), and one of the nation's best at the free-throw line (93.5 percent). The Milwaukee product shot 46.2 percent from the floor and 35.5 percent from 3-point range.
He made 70 of his last 72 foul shots to close the season and enjoyed one of the best seasons in the history of the collegiate game from the free-throw line. With a 93.5-percent rate and a minimum of 50 attempts, he not only set a new single-season school record for free-throw percentage but also for the Southeastern Conference (with players between 50 and 100 attempts).
Herro scored in double figures in a team-high 29 games and 20 or more points six times, including a career-high 29 points in a comeback vs Arkansas and 24 points at Louisville that earned him U.S. Basketball Writers Association Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week honors.
On the road, he was at his best. The freshman guard averaged 15.5 points on 50.5 percent from the field with 18 3-pointers in Kentucky's 10 true road games this season. Herro scored at least 12 points in nine of the 10 away games and was one of four players nationally and the only freshman in the country to average at least 15.0 points on the road while shooting at least 50 percent from the field, at least 35 percent from 3-point range and at least 90 percent from the free-throw line.
Herro made the NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team after hitting a game-winning 3-pointer with 25 seconds to play to down Houston in the Sweet 16. He then sank two free throws to make it a two-possession game with 13 ticks to play.
The AP named Herro its SEC Newcomer of the Year while the league’s coaches tabbed Herro to its All-SEC Freshman Team and All-SEC Second Team. A full list of honors won by the three-time SEC Freshman of the Week are below:
· NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team
· CollegeInsider.com Kyle Macy Freshman All-America Team
· Basketball Times All-Freshman First Team
· SEC Newcomer of the Year (AP)
· All-SEC Second Team (AP/Coaches)
· All-SEC Freshman Team (Coaches)
· USBWA All-District IV Team
· Three-time SEC Freshman of the Week
· USBWA Wayne Tisdale National Freshman of the Week (Jan. 2)
· NCAA.com National Player of the Week (Dec. 31)
Since Calipari joined the Wildcat program for the 2009-10 season, UK has produced 35 NBA Draft picks over nine seasons, nearly twice as many as the next-closest school (Duke). Included in the 35 are 26 first-rounders, three No. 1 overall picks and 19 lottery selections.
Of the 25 players at UK who have declared for the NBA Draft after their freshman seasons, 23 have been first-round draft picks. All 25 have played a game in the NBA.
The 2019 NBA Draft Combine will take place May 15-19 in Chicago, although it hasn’t been determined yet if Herro will participate. The 2019 NBA Draft is June 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.