Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Kyle Wiltjer situation handled correctly
Kentucky forward Kyle Wiltjer is likely headed to the West Coast to redshirt next season.
But he could be back at Kentucky playing on a loaded team. And there's always a chance he could redshirt next season -- in Lexington.
He has options, and Kentucky is open to any of them.
In an era when coaches and players bicker with each other over transferring, the Wiltjer-John Calipari-UK potential separation went about as smoothly as any of these similar situations in the past few years.
Wiltjer was open with Calipari and the Kentucky fan base and administration about his intentions to pursue another opportunity that might fit his skill set. Calipari delivered to him the news in a transparent fashion too.
There seem to be no hidden agendas. The problem with too many of these transfer/blocking situations is one side or both sides aren't dealing straight with each other on the timing of the departure and the intentions of both parties.
"He's handled this well," Calipari said. "He can come back. He knows that. He called me, and he was honest about it."
The Wildcats will have plenty of frontcourt pieces if Wiltjer leaves. Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein returned and have already been pushed in practice by incoming freshmen Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson.
Wiltjer is exploring his options, and there are plenty of takers for his services in his native Northwest, from Gonzaga and Portland to Oregon and Oregon State. The Zags thought they had a real shot to land him out of high school in Portland, Ore., three years ago and are considered the early leader at this time.
Wiltjer needs to get stronger. Calipari told him as much when the two met. If he chooses to go with a redshirt season, Wiltjer can bulk up in much the same way Kelly Olynyk changed his body during his redshirt junior year to turn into an All-American and a likely lottery pick.
That said, Calipari has the luxury of a stacked roster. He doesn't need Wiltjer. He still wants him, but UK's season hasn't been altered by Wiltjer's late June decision to explore his options.
That's not the norm when a player decides to leave. But anger and resentment can be avoided if there is an open dialogue between the player and the coach when the season ends.
A player should explore his options if he wants to look for a better fit, more playing time or somewhere closer to home, let alone if there's a coaching change. But he should be mature and responsible enough to convey those thoughts as soon as he has them so the coach and school can prepare to go in another direction.