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UK's supporting characters pass up stardom for a title

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

NEW ORLEANS – Kyle Wiltjer was a five-star recruit coming out of high school. He could have gone anywhere in the country and played 30 minutes a night.

Eloy Vargas was a 6-foot-11 top-50 prospect that originally went to Florida. After leaving the Gators and attending junior college, there's little doubt Vargas could have made an impact on a lower level.

Similarly, Twany Beckham was a rotation player at Mississippi State, playing almost 16 minutes per game. He could have transferred to a lesser conference and averaged double-digits.

“I could have gone anywhere and played 25 minutes,” Vargas said.

Only Wiltjer played more than 10 minutes per game this season, with Vargas providing spot minutes inside and Beckham coming off the bench for a total of 44 minutes.

Their decisions to pass up starring roles to win a national championship paid off on Monday night, even though the trio played six minutes combined.

“We set this goal at the beginning of the season,” Beckham said.

“We wanted to do something special,” Wiltjer added.

None of the three care that they didn't get playing time or a lot of shots off the bench; ending the season with a title was more than enough.

Said Vargas: “I made the right decision. Being a national champion is great.”

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