Feb 9, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) runs up the court in the second half of the game against the Auburn Tigers at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Auburn 72-62. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky's Kyle Wiltjer Planning to Transfer? Could Be Gonzaga-Bound

One McDonald’s All-American in, another possibly on the way out.

Hours after Prestonwood (TX) star Julius Randle verbally vowed to become the sixth Burger Boy in Kentucky’s record-setting class, news broke that a former Arches All-American may be leaving Lexington to evade the logjam. Jerry Meyer, national recruiting analyst for 247sports.com, says he’s hearing sophomore stretch-4 Kyle Wiltjer will transfer closer to home in the Pacific Northwest.

A Portland transplant by way of British Columbia, Wiltjer committed to Kentucky hastily despite never visiting the school. The Wildcats marksman did, however, take a trip northward to Spokane and the campus of Gonzaga. If Meyer’s source is accurate, a return visit could be in order.

In five months, the Cats will usher in the most acclaimed recruiting class of all-time — seven of the hottest names in high school hoops, headlined by a trio of star Texans: Randle and the Texas two-step of Andrew and Aaron Harrison. With Randle in tow, freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein likely returning and a pair of blue-chip bigs (Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee) oncoming as well, playing time next season will be hard to come by at the 4 and 5 spots.

Wiltjer, a shooting specialist exposed on the defensive end against bigger opponents, would likely be the odd man out in the rotation. Randle is the top power forward in high school, a bruising, but skilled player who compares favorably to former Wildcat Terrence Jones (Randle is more explosive and better at finishing around the rim). He didn’t commit to John Calipari to ride the pine in back of a specialty player. Johnson and Cauley-Stein, provided his hints of returning to school are true, will split the minutes at the pivot. Lee, a 4/5  tweener, figures to vie for playing time as a reserve power forward.

In light of Randle’s commitment, Kentucky is currently two-over the scholarship limit for the 2013-14 season. Nerlens Noel’s impending NBA draft declaration will pare that surplus down to one, and if Wiltjer follows through and seeks his release, the Cats would then break even. In the meantime, the program doesn’t have enough scholarships to mete out to its committed players without stripping one from a current member of the team.

Athletic scholarships, to be clear, are not guaranteed, renewable instead on a year-to-year basis. In an emergency, Kentucky could decline to renew the scholarship of former walk-on Jarrod Polson (Polson is on track to graduate in the spring anyway) or kindly (not so kindly) nudge fifth-year senior Jon Hood out the door. Wiltjer’s departure would eliminate those troublesome extra steps.

Were he to transfer, Wiltjer would have to sit out the 2013-14 season in accordance with NCAA rules.


Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Basketball Gonzaga Bulldogs Kentucky Wildcats

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.marcum.9047 Jim Marcum

    I personally hate to see Kyle leave. He most definitely needs to play defense and be tougher anywhere he goes. I think by doing what he originally said in coming to Kentucky that he wanted to play with the best he would be better off to stay with us. But whatever his decision is we appreciate his efforts for us and wish him the best of luck in the future.

  • John

    Wiltjer can’t shoot now and doesn’t rebound or play defense. He’s weak and a liability on the court. We don’t need him. Get rid of Kyle now. Marcus Lee also appears to be an odd man out. Marcus won’t be getting any playing time. Go after Wiggins and Aaron Gordon.

    • http://twitter.com/marksocoby Mark Socoby

      Marcus Lee is an odd man out? How? Because he isn’t going to start? He’s an All-American! A tremendous athlete with exceptional length that will benefit from spot minutes and year to add muscle to his frame. He’s going to be a great player.

  • Sergeant Riley

    “I could see him be a good fit at Syracuse”-sergeant riley

  • http://www.facebook.com/Zachtrailor Zach Trailor

    Being a UK fan and live in Kentucky, Kyle is one of the best shooters in the league I can give him that. A .421% Field Goal shooter and a .367%. Also his Free Throw’s aren’t that bad either, 81%. But now his bad side, 4.2 rebounds a game as a Power Forward? 0.4 blocks a game?!? Kyle Wiltjer NEEDS AND HAS TO work on his defense. A lot of you might I’m just a kid, I’m 14 I don’t know what I’m talking about, as a true BBN fan I’ll give the info, the true info, if he ends up in Gonzaga or Syracuse or where ever, or just stay in UK, it’s his choice, where ever he feels best at is where he should go.

  • WS

    Chew em up and spit em out! Make em transfer, pull their scholarships or send them packing to the NBA long before they are ready and ruin their careers in the process. UK is the boiler room of college basketball. The flame will burn out soon as recruits realiaze the risk they take playing for Cal. This is not going to work out well in the end.