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Kyle Wiltjer leaving Kentucky, will explore transfer options

Jun 24, 2013, 5:53 PM EDT

SEC Vanderbilt Kentucky Basketball

Looks like you can add one more defection off last season’s Kentucky team. Kyle Wiltjer, a 6-10 junior-to-be, is leaving the program.

He’s the third player to leave the program since the end of a disappointing season for the Wildcats, going 21-12 and being upset by Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT.

This transfer, however, is much more significant than point guard Ryan Harrow, who left the team and headed to Georgia State to be closer to his ailing father. Archie Goodwin announced his intentions to enter this year’s NBA Draft earlier in the year.

Last season, Wiltjer, a Portland, Ore. native, averaged 10.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, shooting 36.7 percent from three-point range. His point total doubled from his freshman year to his sophomore year, when he averaged five points per game as a key reserve on the Wildcats’ national championship team.

The most intriguing thing about this case is that in a statement made by Calipari on his website, it sounds as if the door is totally open for him to return to the team.

“Kyle’s choice to explore options at another school disappoints me, but it’s his decision at the end of the day, and I fully support his decision,” Calipari said. “I would love for him to go through this process and return to us, but I will support him and help him in any way I can.”

Wiltjer released a letter to fans on the Kentucky athletics website, expressing his gratitude for the school, program and fanbase but expressing a need to “play a more significant role” on the court.

“Heading into college my dream was to win a National Championship and compete with and play against the best players in the country,” Wiltjer said in the letter. “Without a doubt, I accomplished both of these goals in my two years at Kentucky.  Now as I head into my junior year, I recognize that my new and adjusted goals require me to make some very difficult upcoming decisions.  Coach Cal has been everything I expected him to be, as I have felt very comfortable talking with him about my situation.  I cannot stress enough how supportive Coach has been during this period. He is more than a coach to me, and for that I am forever grateful.”

“During this next year, I will be working on my body so that I am able to compete the way I know I can.  I want to find a situation that will help me do this as well as play a more significant role, wherever that may be. Even though I might physically leave Lexington, I will never forget the support and kindness that everyone has shown my family and [me.]  It is difficult to put into words how hard it is to possibly leave BBN, yet I am confident that whatever I choose, I will give it my all. Regardless, I will always bleed blue and will never forget these amazing last two years at Kentucky.”

This is a only surprising move because of the lateness of it. Most school’s are already well into the first summer school session and — though I believe it will not be hard for Wiltjer to find a school where he can play a solid role as a tall shooter with good rebounding ability — it might be difficult for Wiltjer to have his pick of school’s with an open scholarship.

By most accounts, Wiltjer would’ve been buried on the bench next season with all the talent that is landing in Lexington this summer, and as a result, his stats may have regressed to that of his freshman year, or less. But he’ll have his pick of suitors coming after his talents.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

  1. cranespy - Jun 24, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    Hey Bobby Huggins…….here’s the big man you need in Morgantown!

  2. fnc111 - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    He’s going to Oregon St

  3. imforbigblue - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    If you can’t play with the big boys take your ball and go home Kyle!

    • dexterismyhero - Jun 25, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      trashing your own. good one imforbigbluandiblowcoachcal.

  4. srro224 - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    Reblogged this on Real Life Stuff and commented:
    Last year was a tough year, but I don’t think it was tough enough to chase off all these players. I think maybe Calipari is puttin on a little pressure to open up some room for this recruiting class coming in! Gotta wish Kyle Wiltjer luck though, I’m sure he’ll tear it up wherever he goes!

  5. jjohnb5393 - Jun 25, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    He was recruited over. Alex Poythress is coming back, and UK signed Marcus Lee and Julius Randle….two top forwards ….also Derrick Willis, who is , at least , at Wiltjers level. He is 6’9-6’10…..and can’t guard anyone or rebound ……

  6. gatordontplay - Jun 25, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    imforbigblue instead of trashing this kid how about wishing him luck and thanking im for helping your cheating school win a nc and representing the school with high integrity and honor.. we all know you think hes an overrated punk for leaving uk and you feel the same way about wiggins because he choose a better school and coach but you dont have to be a f@@@@@@@ dueshbag about it bro

    • kentakka - Jun 25, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      First off, imforbigblue shouldn’t be trashing Kyle or any former Wildcat. I wish he wouldn’t go. He may not play so much this coming season, but a senior Kyle Wiltjer would be great I think if he took the year off and worked on his defense and building his body up in the weight room. Last season he did appear to be a little chubby. He’s a terrific shooter. Just needs to work on that defense.

      As for gatordontplay, you’re just another person with wild accusations claiming UK cheated because we won a championship. What’s your accusations based on? Let me guess. Coach Cal has 2 vacated seasons so he must have cheated to win a championship. If that’s the case, perhaps do some research and find out why his seasons were vacated. A player screws up and it’s obviously the coaches fault. If it’s another reason, I’d love to hear it. Oh…perhaps he has a big checkbook? Lets just say the same about Kansas then cause obviously they wrote a check to get Wiggins. I’ve heard em all.

      Wiggins is one of the best players, period. He went to Kansas cause it was the best fit for em. I plan on watching Kansas just to watch that boy play. He has a true gift and will shine. But I’m a true blue fan and will watch UK whether we win or lose.

      If Kyle was going to go anywhere, I would love to have seen him go to Florida. The Gators are known to be terrific 3 point shooters, and while Kyle was mostly used for his 3-point shooting at UK, it’d be a great fit for him. He’ll probably end up at Gonzaga though.

    • adoc1963a1 - Jul 6, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      All I can say is Kyle played a role in the 2012 Championship. Last year they just couldn’t fit the pieces together when they did finally start working then a tragedy happened which was a set back. Yes they lost the first game in the NIT but have you ever tired playing where it was really hot conditions they were not use to playing. I remember them stating that in the place it was above 100 degrees. The team they were playing were use to those conditions and had the home team advantage. Put the shoe on the other foot had it been in Memorial Coliseum it might have been a different story.
      I personally feel Kyle could be of great help to this incoming team of freshman. Help them to build confidence as he has had to do here himself. Now he is a Junior I wish he would stick around who knows maybe the freshman this year could help him to become a better player himself. Just like Enes Kanter did with Josh Harrellson it is possible! Hang in there and GO BBN

  7. gatordontplay - Jun 25, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    I said uk cheated because imforbigblue accuses everyone of cheating but think uk is off limits.. I do believe uk cheats but theyre not doing anything different from any other school.. I said wiigins was an overrated punk because imforbigblue said he was after choosing kansas over uk.. read previous articles and you will see im playing games with the mentally challenged imforbigblue

  8. kingghidora - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    You have no proof but you believe UK cheats???? You’ve been watching too much ESPN. Kentucky has the cleanest program in the country. They have to because there are too many jerks who think they don’t including many who work for the NCAA. Here’s a hint for you. North Carolina got CAUGHT cheating big time. The football team got big time sanctions because of the fake class scandal. The basketball team was also involved but somehow they never got any sanctions at all. Hmmm… The NCAA said they allowed schools and conferences to police their own in areas regarding academics. I wonder why that doesn’t apply to the football team?

    Then there’s UK and a guy named Enes Kanter. He asked the NCAA just how to proceed in playing basketball in his native country of Turkey. He followed their guidelines to the letter. Then he switched his plans from playing for Oregon to playing for Kentucky. It was the same year another Oregon kid, Terrence Jones, also chose UK. BTW another Oregon star named Wiltjer also chose UK. Suddenly Kanter’s case was under review. The fact that the former president of Oregon was now CEO of the NCAA had nothing to do with that of course. No matter. The NCAA assured Kentucky that Kanter would be eligible despite taking part in the weird basketball system in Turkey where even non-pros get living expenses while they play for pro teams. But when the time comes for a decision, and the NCAA waited for the very last day, Kanter was ruled ineligible. No worries. The NCAA said to appeal and then Kanter would be eligible. Same routine – last day – ruled permanently ineligible. Hmmm… Didn’t the NCAA just spout off about wanting to lure players from that region to the US to play college ball here? Of course they did. They gave guidelines for everyone to follow. Kanter followed them exactly. He certainly didn’t need any money from a pro team. It was just meal money anyway. It was a very small amount. And he saved every penny they gave him and said he would give it back. After all his parents were well to do professionals (one was a doctor I think and the other also made a lot of money). Too bad. They waited until it was too late for UK to sign anyone else. They thought they could hurt UK by denying them a good center. Josh Harrellson spoiled that NCAA party though by becoming a great player. Still Kanter was railroaded. At the same time Ohio St. was getting by with murder, Kansas was playing a guy who took money from an agent (more money than Kanter got), and there was this quarterback who’s father shopped him around for $180k. Those teams had no sanctions. But Kanter was banned for life for doing what he was told.

    Then there was Corey Maggette. Now there’s the North Carolina fake class scandal and the P.J. Hairston scandal, etc. etc. etc.. But for some reason ONLY UK gets sanctions for doing exactly what the NCAA told them to do.

    So the next time you want to shoot off your mouth about UK “cheating” get your head out in the sun and look around. Pay attention. UK would be caught in 5 minutes if they cheated. I couldn’t count the fake cheating allegations levied at UK in recent years. Pete Thamel has conjured up several himself. And not ONE of those things has been true. Look it up. You can find the real story. The NCAA hates UK because they consistently dominate the country in college basketball instead of the east coast teams doing it like the NCAA wants. There’s a reason Duke and UNC get by with murder and UK gets railroaded time after time. Pay attention for once in your life and stop swallowing that propaganda you hear from the media. Go ahead and talk to me about money in envelopes and I’ll point out how that was faked and how UK’s assistant coach won a huge lawsuit against that package service.

  9. gatordontplay - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    you wrote too much crap for me to bother to read.. yes uk cheats just like unc duke kansas Louisville. even schools like lamar sam houston state western Kentucky grambling Wisconsin green bay.. they ALL Do!!! too many rules to many agents around players and too many boosters. dont act like uk doesn’t have these problems. you need to get your local idiot imforbigblue under control before u come after me

  10. jjohnb5393 - Jun 25, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    Cheating doesn’t have anything to do with Kyle Wiltjer…..he made the personal decision to transfer for more playing time, which would have been reduced next year no doubt. Transfers happen everywhere. He was strong academically at UK and will be given a full release , and coach cal said he would call any school to recommend him…..

  11. kentakka - Jun 25, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Gator, I meant to ask that as a question. I meant to word it like “are you just another person throwing out wild accusations?” I should proofread what I type before hitting that post comment button. I haven’t been paying too much attention the comments so I didn’t know you two were exchanging blows.

    I still don’t see any reason to throw out accusations saying I believe so and so school cheats. I certainly don’t accuse any school of cheating. If NCAA punishes a school, they punish them. If they don’t, they don’t. Nothing I say will change the result. I’m here to enjoy college hoops, period.

    As for getting that guy under our control, invent the technology to reach through your monitor and through his to slap that boy silly. No reason to fight with others online.

  12. bigmeechy74 - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    Come to Oklahoma State. The one thing they need is a guy to stretch the floor and hit 3’s from the wing. Obviously he isn’t going to osu but I’m just saying it would be a perfect fit

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