Calipari expects Washington to play in 1st round

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Kentucky coach John Calipari said Wednesday that he expects PJ Washington to play in the first round against Abilene Christian on Thursday.

Calipari said Washington sprained his foot against in an SEC semifinal loss against Tennessee and has been in a walking boot since Sunday.

Calipari said X-rays and an MRI were negative, but that Washington was sent to a specialist to make sure he wouldn't do further damage to his foot if he plays.

"He wants to play," Calipari said. "Well you know me. Let's go get one more level with this. We sent him to a specialist to make sure he can't harm himself. But we expect him to play."

Washington leads the Wildcats in scoring (14.8 PPG) and rebounding (7.5 RPG). Teammates deferred to Calipari when asked about Washington's injury, but said they'd be ready to step up without him.

"We don't really rely on one guy to step up. we rely on the whole team to step up," forward Nick Richards said. "Everyone's prepared for that if it comes to that, then so be it. Everybody's got to step up and bring more toward the team."

Washington missed Kentucky's media availability and shootaround Wednesday.