Everyone that wanted to put Kyle Wiltjer in a Gonzaga uniform (myself included) may have jumped the gun a bit. Wiltjer seems genuinely torn about his decision on whether he wants to transfer from Kentucky or not.
Perhaps most surprising? Returning to Kentucky for one year remains a totally viable option, and might actually fall in line with what Greg is hoping his son will eventually chose to do:
“Kyle is midway through the college process,” his father says. “The reason he chose Kentucky was a chance to win a national championship, play with the best players in the nation and be in position to have an opportunity to play beyond college. Now he’s looking at what lies in front of him.
‘Kyle has a great relationship with Calipari, but he’s not a stereotypical Calipari player. If he were at Duke or some other place, they’d be running him off screens, but that’s not the Kentucky system. And now he has all these thoroughbreds coming in. Kyle’s biggest challenge is his body. He needs to get stronger and quicker, to get help with nutrition, strength and agility.”
[...] “The biggest time in Kyle’s career lies in the 14 to 16 months ahead,” Greg says. “I’d 100 percent like him to devote the next year to working on his body, but it’s his decision. He feels vested in Kentucky. It has been his life the last two years. And Kyle is a very competitive kid. He is always trying to prove people wrong.”
In short: Wiltjer is understandably concerned about a lack of playing time at Kentucky in 2013-14, and he may not fit Calipari’s system to a T. But he is also emotionally invested in Kentucky, and the possibility of redshirting at UK might provide the same benefit — sitting out a season and getting shredded, essentially — as a transfer move.
The speculating will continue for a couple of more weeks, but it appears that Wiltjer will have his final decision made after the World University games end on July 16. Best of luck Kyle.
As we head towards the Independence Day Holiday and actual news slows down, it’s time to check in on a couple of former Cats playing internationally. Where in the world is Randolph Morris? Well the former UK big man is in his fourth season of playing ball in China and apparently is flourishing.
As reported last week by Chinese media, center Randolph Morris has re-signed with the Ducks for another season. Terms of his deal were not disclosed, though it is believed to be just a one-year deal.
The decision to bring back Morris, who helped the Ducks win their first and only CBA championship in 2011-12, is smart. The 7-footer is arguably the most versatile and skilled center in the league. Able to out muscle shorter or smaller defenders on the block, shoot from midrange, and draw fouls at a high rate, Morris is a tough matchup every single night. He is also the perfect complement to Stephon Marbury, whose effectiveness getting into the paint is predicated on spread sets — an environment in which Morris thrives.
Beyond that, Morris, entering his fourth season with Beijing, flourishes in China, which isn’t always a given for foreign players. Among people within the league, he has a reputation of being no-fuss, low-maintenance, high-integrity player who shows up for work and does his job. If Beijing decided to make a switch — and there were clamors from both fans and media to do that after Morris played poorly against Shandong in the semi-finals — the Ducks would have entered 2013-14 with an unknown. For a team that’s still a title contender, that was ultimately too risky.
Apparently China is big enough for both Randolph and Jorts as Josh Harrellson seems to be making a name for himself over there as well.
“American Josh Harrellson (208-F-89) had a great game in the last round for league’s leader Chongqing FD, and that’s him to receive a Asia-basket.com NBL Player of the Week award for round 14,” says the Asia-Basketball.com.
“The 23-year-old forward had a double-double of 30 points and twenty three rebounds, while his team outclassed Jiang Xi (#9, 2-12) with 32-point margin 118-86.
“It allowed Chongqing FD to consolidate first place in the Chinese NBL. They would have been even better if they hadn’t lost a few games earlier this season. Chongqing FD has a very solid 11-3 record, but they cannot be too comfortable about keeping top position. In the team’s last game Harrellson had a remarkable 55.6% from 2-point range.
Jorts is averaging 21.7 points a game over in China and is a free agent in the NBA. Hopefully he gets another look in the league.