Kentucky Wildcats Basketball

Kentucky Basketball: Coach Calipari's Incoming Class Has Kyle Wiltjer Leaving

Feb 23, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) passes the ball against the Missouri Tigers in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Missouri 90-83. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Vinny HardyCorrespondent IJune 25, 2013

Kyle Wiltjer was at a crossroads, facing a decision he felt he had to make.

He wrestled with wanting to stay at Kentucky to make more memories or leave and take the memories he had made with him. 

He said as much and more in his letter to the Big Blue Nation on Coach Cal's website coachcal.com. 

He has now offically made up his mind, possibly heading to Gonzaga to get closer to his native Oregon and gain more playing time in the process.

Things change quickly on the college basketball landscape. This is especially true at Kentucky under Coach Cal.

It seems like only yesterday (no really) when Wiltjer was a member of one of Kentucky's highly touted incoming freshman classes.

That was all the way back in 2011. The 2013 class is locked and loaded and ready to come in and try to return the Wildcats back to respectability and national prominence.

 

2013Kentucky Basketball Commitment List (8)

Name Pos Location Ht Wt 40 Stars Rivals Rating Committed Videos
Committed - Not Yet Signed
Aaron Harrison SG Fort Bend, TXTravis 6'5" 210   5 stars   10/4/12 18 videos
Andrew Harrison PG Fort Bend, TXTravis 6'5" 205   5 stars   10/4/12 18 videos
Dominique Hawkins SG Richmond, KYMadison Central 6'1" 170   3 stars   4/10/13 1 video
Dakari Johnson C Montverde, FLMontverde Academy 6'10" 265   5 stars   1/5/13 4 videos
Marcus Lee PF Antioch, CADeer Valley 6'9" 205   5 stars   10/18/12 4 videos
Julius Randle PF Plano, TXPrestonwood Christian Academy 6'9" 240   5 stars   3/20/13 22 videos
Derek Willis PF Mt. Washington, KYBullitt East 6'8" 190   3 stars   1/20/12 3 videos
James Young SF Rochester Hls, MIRochester 6'6" 200   5 stars   10/11/12 7 videos

This same crop of freshmen would have caused Wiltjer to virtually be on the outside looking in.

His defensive issues and rebounding weaknesses for a man his size are common knowledge. If he's not hitting shots, the negatives outweigh the positives, and that's why his minutes would have been jeopardized to begin with.

That said, if he had stayed, I think he could still could have made solid contributions in limited minutes. Although his game is old school, he could have filled the role of the stretch 4 power forward that everyone loves to have now.

As talented as these incoming freshmen are there will still be those nights when the clanks are contagious and perimeter shots just aren't falling.

He would have been ideal in a role similar to that of Erik Murphy during his time at Florida.

Another Gator, Matt Bonner, a.k.a. The Red Mamba, is doing the same thing in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs.

However, the decision was not ours to make. It was Kyle Wiltjer's, and we wish him the best going forward.

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