There are headlines you expect to write and then there are ones that jump up and surprise you. The above falls into that second bucket. A few months removed from Kyle Wiltjer actually tweeting that he would remain at Kentucky, he has published a letter which states his intention to seek transfer away from Kentucky. The Canadian forward spent two years at Kentucky where he played a solid role, averaging 5 points in 11 minutes per game as a freshman and 10 points in 24 minutes as a sophomore. While those numbers are good on paper, many constantly questioned how Wiltjer fit in Coach John Calipari's system and if he would ever blossom into his potential as a Wildcat. In Wiltjer's letter to Kentucky fans, he states his rationale for the 'decision':
During this next year, I will be working on my body so that I am able to compete the way I know I can. 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. It is difficult to put into words how hard it is to possibly leave BBN, yet I am confident that whatever I choose, I will give it my all. Regardless, I will always bleed blue and will never forget these amazing last two years at Kentucky.
John Calipari followed up Wiltjer's note with his own comments and basically said that he understood Kyle's views and would support him in any way possible. While all sorts of rumors are flying, it is important to note what ESPN's Eamonn Brennan points out: nothing in these letters says that a transfer is definite:
It's hard to overstate how unusual this is. In college sports, transfers are almost always handled as 100 percent closed-door affairs. That is especially true of a player's initial decision to transfer. The scramble of recruitment that ensues after that first decision is made is frequently open to the public, not unlike a high school recruitment. But that doesn't happen until the player has absolutely decided he's left, and the school he's leaving has issued its perfunctory statement wishing the player the best of luck with his future.
This is not that. It's strange, and it comes with its fair share of questions. Why announce before Wiltjer leaves, in case he comes back? Is there any reason to parse these statements for subtext indicating some perceived difference in the likelihood of his return? Just how small is that chance, anyway?
In the coming days, we hope to bring you more first-hand knowledge of the current situation which should include a list of schools that Wiltjer is looking at. Scanning most national pundits on Twitter and other social media, it is clear that Gonzaga is considered a favorite. Not only were the Zags big players in his recruitment out of high school but Wiltjer is also great friends with Kevin Pangos. They two are on the Canadian national team this summer and you have to guess that will play a factor in the decision. The great Luke Winn brought up one other factor the Zags have working in its favor:
Gotta think Kyle Wiltjer -- if he does transfer -- will take long look at getting on the Olynyk Transformation Plan at Gonzaga.— Luke Winn (@lukewinn) June 24, 2013
All this said, there will be a long line of suitors for Wiltjer. While I'm not sure if he will necessarily go through the process of visiting a bunch of schools, you have to think the big hitters in the Northwest will be in play. Keep it tuned here for all developments on this story...