Tyler Herro announces he will stay in the NBA Draft

(Photo: UK Athletics)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky men's basketball freshman guard Tyler Herro has decided to remain in the 2019 NBA Draft, ending his career at UK.

Herro completes his Kentucky with 519 points and 60 3-pointers in his lone season at Kentucky.

"After exploring my options a little bit more and getting some immediate feedback, I've decided to remain in the draft. My hope was always to remain in the draft and begin my lifelong dream of playing in the NBA, but we wanted to be absolutely certain that taking that next step was in my best interests. After the information my family and I received, I believe that time is now and I'm ready to jump into that next stage of my life with both feet.

"This year was everything I had hoped for and more. Coach Cal and the staff challenged me to become a complete basketball player, and I truly believe I've done that and improved in all areas of my game. I can't wait to take what I've learned to the next level.

"I have absolutely loved my time at Kentucky and I want to thank the Big Blue Nation for making a kid from Wisconsin one of your own. This place will always be a second home to me. To my teammates, thank you for pushing me every day and for always having my back. I'll never forget the memories we made this season and I'll bleed blue with you forever."

Under new NCAA rules, players can sign with an NCAA-certified agent, receive feedback and still return to school by May 29 (10 days after the NBA Draft Combine). Herro announced last week he was utilizing that process but will now join PJ Washington as one of two Wildcats forgoing their eligibility to remain in the June 20 draft.

"As I said last week, Tyler is wired and driven like few other players I've coached," UK head coach John Calipari said. "Tyler was such a pleasure to coach this year because he didn't let anyone else define what type of player he was; he defined what type of player he was going to be. He made the decision and put in the effort to become a complete basketball player who can score on the bounce, who can shoot it, who can defend and who can rebound. It's his total package that will make Tyler successful at the next level. I've loved coaching him and I can't wait to see what he does at the next level."

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.