Kyle Wiltjer may no longer be a Wildcat.
The junior forward from Oregon released an open letter to Kentucky fans via the school’s official website, UKAthletics.com, on Monday announcing his intention to transfer from the program.
In it, Wiltjer wrote:
Big Blue Nation,
I would like to take this moment to thank Coach Cal, the entire staff, my teammates and the BBN for a memorable two years thus far.
Heading into college my dream was to win a National Championship and compete with and play against the best players in the country. Without a doubt, I accomplished both of these goals in my two years at Kentucky. Now as I head into my junior year, I recognize that my new and adjusted goals require me to make some very difficult upcoming decisions. Coach Cal has been everything I expected him to be, as I have felt very comfortable talking with him about my situation. I cannot stress enough how supportive Coach has been during this period. He is more than a coach to me, and for that I am forever grateful.
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.
With UK returning sophomores Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress in the frontcourt to go along with highly-regarded freshmen like Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee and Derek Willis, it was unclear what Wiltjer’s role would be on the 2013-14 squad.
He averaged 10.2 points and 4.2 rebounds last season, earning the Southeastern Conference’s “Sixth Man of The Year” award. He was also one of the Wildcats’ top outside shooting threats, making 55 3-pointers.
As a freshman, Wiltjer helped UK post a 38-2 record and win its eighth national championship by playing a zone-busting shooting role off the bench.
Calipari took to his personal website, CoachCal.com, to wish Wiltjer well in his future endeavors, but also expressed hope that the player would reconsider his decision.
“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,” Calipari said. “I would love for him to go through this process and return to us, but I will support him and help him in any way I can. He’s a terrific young man, a great student, a tremendous basketball player and an excellent teammate. If he does choose to go somewhere else, that school will be very lucky.
“We all need to understand that he’s leaving on his own terms. We all want him back, but it’s not what we want; it’s what he wants, and that’s OK. It hasn’t happened very often in my career, but transfers are a part of our game. My philosophy has always been to support the kid in whatever way I can and make sure he can still pursue his dreams, because ultimately that’s all I want for these young men.”