After releasing a statement early last week, it appeared that Kyle Wiltjer’s days in a Kentucky uniform were over, and that may still be the case, but it does appear that the junior-to-be may be reconsidering his decision to transfer.
Upon hearing that Wiltjer was to transfer from UK, speculation began to mount that he would move on to a school on the west coast. Media members quickly began to name schools like Gonzaga, Oregon, and Oregon State as possible destinations. Then Adam Zagoria reported that Oregon and Oregon State were out of the running and all signs pointed to Gonzaga.
Well, not so fast.
Prior to driving the pace car at the Quaker State 400 in Sparta, KY, head coach John Calipari was asked about Wiltjer’s decision to transfer. Calipari said that Wiltjer was still weighing his options and still may return to Lexington.
While I would consider Gonzaga the favorite to obtain Wiltjer’s services, I wouldn’t rule out a return to UK. There’s no getting around the fact that he will not see the minutes as a junior that he got as a sophomore. But, he can play the role for next year’s team much like he did for the 2012 National Championship team. He can come off of the bench and knock down shots. And with the talent that will be surrounding him, there is no doubt that he will get open shots.
Another reason why you shouldn’t rule out Kentucky is if he stays in Lexington he won’t have to sit out a year. While many believe that a redshirt year at UK, or sitting out a year after transferring, would benefit Wiltjer by giving him an opportunity to work on his body, much like Kelly Olynyck did at Gonzaga, I’m not sure Wiltjer buys into that. I’m also not sure that Wiltjer can improve his body and get stronger. You can’t tell me that UK’s staff hasn’t tried to do everything in their power to bulk him up.
Personally, I would love to see Wiltjer back at UK and think the ‘Cats could use his experience. Without him, the Wildcats’ lone player with NCAA Tournament experience will be Jarrod Polson. And that was one minute of garbage time in their easy Second Round victory over Western Kentucky. Last year we saw first-hand how a lack of experience can negatively affect a team.
So, while I would say a transfer from UK to Gonzaga seems to be the most likely option, I don’t believe it to be as imminent as originally thought. We should learn more this week.