Portland native Kyle Wiltjer announced Monday he’s considering leaving Kentucky after two years with the Wildcats.
In a letter to the Big Blue Nation, Wiltjer said: “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.”
In a statement on his website Kentucky coach John Calipari said he hopes Wiltjer remains at UK.
“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, a 6-foot-9, 239-pounder, was a five-star and top 25 recruit out of Jesuit High in 2011. His top five schools at the time included California, Gonzaga, Texas and Wake Forest.
He averaged 4.8 points a game as a freshman reserve on Kentucky’s national championship team. Last season, he averaged 10.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 23.8 minutes en route to capturing the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year award.
After Calipari assembled a seven-man freshman class considered the best recruiting class in college basketball history, Wiltjer’s chance of winning a starting spot diminished. If he stays at UK, chances are his minutes and averages will decrease.
If Wiltjer leaves, he’ll join a long list of transfers.
Undoubtedly Wiltjer will be one of the most coveted players this summer. He has two years of eligibility remaining and would have to sit out the 2013-14 season.
Washington has a scholarship available and would like to bolster its front line after failing to add a big man to the 2013 class. The Huskies have also had success recently nabbing players from Oregon including Andrew Andrews, Nigel Williams-Goss and Terrence Ross.
However, it’s uncertain if Wiltjer is interested in UW. Other possible destinations include Gonzaga and Oregon.