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Kyle Wiltjer openly debating leaving Kentucky

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Kyle Wiltjer, a McDonald's All-American two years ago, announced Monday afternoon that he is thinking about transferring out of Kentucky.

Wiltjer, an Oregon native, averaged 10.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in just under 24 minutes per game last season. He was unable to crack into UK's starting lineup during his two seasons of college hoops in Lexington, though he did win the Sixth Man of the Year award in the SEC last season.

Kentucky coach John Calipari broke the Wiltjer news late Monday afternoon on his website. Calipari spoke with Wiltjer after the player's training with the Canadian National Team in recent weeks, which included a trip to China for exhibition basketball that concluded over the weekend.

"After playing with Canada, Kyle feels like he could have a more prominent role in another program than he might have with us next season," Calipari wrote. "He expressed to me that that's the kind of situation he wants to be in for his last two years of eligibility. For his future, he may be right."

Wiltjer has not definitely decided to leave the program; both Calipari's blog post and Wiltjer's letter to Kentucky fans stop short of definitively announcing a departure. But it appears to be close to happening, that it could just be a matter of where Wiltjer could/would go if he left UK.

"No one should feel that they have to leave after a year or they've failed," Calipari added. "Many will leave after a year, but that's their path. Others will stay four years, but that's their path. 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. ... Anytime a player doesn't feel like he can achieve those dreams with us, I feel like we've failed him, not that he's failed us. I told Kyle I'll play whatever part he wants in his transfer, whether that's being involved and calling other schools on his behalf or not being involved in any way. He expressed to me that he needs my help and advice, which I will give. Whatever Kyle chooses -- and I still hope he ends up back with us -- I wish him and his family the best of luck."

Wiltjer's letter explains a big reason behind this decision: adjustment of his game and maturation of his body. The forward is a talent, but an awkward one, with a ways to go before he can be a well-rounded college player.

In addition to this, Kentucky has what's considered to be one of the best high school classes in college hoops history coming to campus. Julius Randle, James Young, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee will all be getting a lot of playing time. UK's big men will be imposing and most likely much more ready than last year's group that only managed an NIT berth.

Translation: Wiltjer's minutes -- and production -- could be vulnerable to dipping.

"During this next year, I will be working on my body so that I am able to compete the way I know I can," Wiltjer wrote. "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."

Wiltjer, if he does opt to leave, would almost certainly have to sit out for the 2013-14 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

 
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