Contrary to popular opinion, Kentucky does have players on their roster who will be one of the 400,000 athletes mentioned in those of the NCAA’s cheesy “going pro in something besides sports” commercials. According to Kentucky junior Kyle Wiltjer’s letter to the Big Blue Nation which was posted on the school’s athletic site, he’s considering transferring next season. His options reportedly include Oregon, Oregon State, Portland Gonzaga and Texas.
H/t to USA Today:
"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. … 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."
After last season, Wiltjer’s future at Kentucky seemed murky. On one hand, he was going to be a veteran presence on a squad returning just two of its top seven scorers. Wiltjer was a McDonalds All-American/Canadian in 2011, but he just wasn’t a one-and-done type talent. He may not even develop into a future draft pick.
On the other hand, Kentucky’s bringing in a historic recruiting haul as part of their historic freshman class that would have him scrapping for minutes. This would also have been the third different lineup Wiltjer would have been adjusting to in three years as a Wildcat. After serving as a little-used reserve on Kentucky’s national championship squad last season, Wiltjer was named SEC Sixth Man of the Year -- an obscure award most didn’t realize existed.
Not only will Kentucky miss his experience, but Calipari will miss his 6-10 stretch-4’s shooting touch on the perimeter. However, in a remarkable turn of events, Calipari published a letter in response stating that if Wiltjer does decide to transfer, he won’t place any restrictions on where he can accept a scholarship.
It's shocking because most coaches treat their programs like a street gang. There’s only one way out. Either you ride or die. It’s a sad statement on college basketball that a coach who doesn’t place heavy restrictions on an unhappy player’s transfer options is an anomaly rather than the norm. Props to Calipari. Even if you’re not a future lottery pick, he does his guys right. Recruits are paying attention.