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Freshman guard Tyrese Maxey leaves Kentucky a ‘better player’ as he prepares for the next level


By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Tyrese Maxey is leaving with no regrets.

The Kentucky freshman guard declared for the NBA Draft on Monday and said his lone season with the Wildcats was a success.

“This year getting to rep Kentucky across my chest was everything I could have imagined,” Maxey said. “I got to play for a Hall of Famer, be pushed every day by the best coaches in the country, compete alongside great teammates and work with a support staff that is the gold standard – just like Coach Calipari promised.

Tyrese Maxey sizes up the opponent coming at him during a game earlier this season. Maxey declared for the NBA Draft on Monday. (Photo by Tammie Brown, Kentucky Today)

“Even though I didn’t get a chance to compete for my ultimate goal, this season was everything I signed up for. I know I’m a better player and man for embracing the challenge of playing for Kentucky.”

Maxey, who intends to remain in the draft, averaged 14 points per game at Kentucky and scored a career-high 27 point in a win over Louisville and scored an average of 19 points against teams ranked in the Top 25 this season. In his debut, Maxey scored 26 points in a win over Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic.

“There was no player I was harder on this year than Tyrese, and there’s a reason for that,” Calipari said. “One, he’s a great kid with a confidence in his ability that does not waver. Two, he has the potential that he has only begun to realize. And three, Tyrese needed to be challenged to take that next step.”

Calipari said Maxey “met every challenge and became one of the best guards in the country.”

“Not only was it his dream to play at Kentucky, but he also wanted to be coached,” Calipari said. “He’s going to do great in that league because there’s nothing he can’t do. He can handle the ball, he can shoot, he’s got great athleticism and he really defended as the season went on. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of what Jamal Murray was able to do and we know how well he’s done in the NBA. I’m so happy for Tyrese and his family.”

Maxey said he is ready for the next phase of his career.

“It’s time for my next challenge though,” he said. “My dream has always been to play in the NBA and I know I’m prepared for this because I’m Wildcat made. Thank you to the Big Blue Nation, my coaches, teammates and everyone who has played a part in making this an incredible year. I will always bleed blue.”

Maxey became the second UK player entering the draft, following Ashton Hagans, the sophomore guard who announced his intentions Sunday. Nick Richards and Immanuel Quickley are expected to announce soon.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.


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