The University of Kentucky men's basketball team is looking to rebound from a disappointing 2012-13 campaign this season after missing the NCAA tournament, but it will have to do so without forward Kyle Wiltjer.
UPDATE: Friday, July 19, at 5:35 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Wiltjer confirmed his transfer to Gonzaga via Twitter:
Dear BBN, this past month has been very emotional and challenging for me. Whether to transfer or not has been one of the toughest decisions of my life, so I would like to thank everyone for being so supportive through this process. I feel like in my basketball career I'm facing a make it or break it moment and the primary factor in this decision is transforming my body. I'm choosing to transfer to Gonzaga because i feel they have a proven plan in place to help develop players similar to me, which has seen great results. I believe with hard work I can maximize my development at Gonzaga. The last two years at UK have been a valuable experience and I'm very grateful for them. Even though I'm leaving the program, Coach Cal and I will continue our relationship and I will look to him for advice. He is more than just a coach to me. I have made many friends here and I plan to come back. My heart will always be in Lex.
Thank you BBN,
---End of update---
According to Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com, the junior forward's father said that his son has officially transferred to Gonzaga University:
Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer is a done deal to Gonzaga, his father tells http://t.co/QN3mG6fI3t.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) July 19, 2013
Wiltjer played sparingly as a freshman two seasons ago due to the presence of players such as Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence Jones. He was given an opportunity to contribute more heavily as a sophomore, as he averaged more than 10 points and four rebounds per contest, but he certainly didn't live up to his advanced billing.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari is bringing in another incredible recruiting class this year consisting of players such as Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson and James Young, among others, so Wiltjer likely saw the writing on the wall with regards to his playing time decreasing once again.
Is transferring to Gonzaga the right decision for Wiltjer?
As an Oregon native, going to Gonzaga also gives Wiltjer an opportunity to play closer to home. The only downside for Wiltjer is that he will have to sit out a year as per the NCAA's transfer rules, so he won't be able to help the Bulldogs until the 2014-15 season.
With that said, Wiltjer should be used far more effectively when he does ultimately begin playing for the Zags. Head coach Mark Few has developed plenty of successful big men over the past several years, including Kelly Olynyk, Robert Sacre, Austin Daye and Josh Heytvelt, so Wiltjer is now in a position to win and to bolster his case for the NBA.
With so many top recruits joining the Kentucky program this season, he probably couldn't have done that as a Wildcat.
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