Most of the time, when a player transfers from one program to another in college athletics, the coach left behind goes out of his or her way not to mention the departed athlete much, if at all, in the future. That has never been the case for Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari and former Wildcat forward Kyle Wiltjer.
Wiltjer went undrafted in the NBA draft on Thursday but reportedly signed a three-year contract with the Houston Rockets shortly after the draft ended and will have an opportunity to prove he belongs in the league during summer league and training camp. If Wiltjer doesn’t make it, he would likely end up in the developmental league or maybe placed with a team overseas with the help of the Rockets. Calipari publicly congratulated Wiltjer on Twitter Friday evening.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) June 24, 2016
Wiltjer was a freshman at Kentucky when the Wildcats won the national title in 2012, and he earned the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year award as a sophomore. He opted to transfer to Gonzaga, however, where he led the Bulldogs deep into the NCAA Tournament as a junior and senior the past two seasons.
When he announced his decision to transfer from Kentucky, Wiltjer called it one of the toughest choices of his life, but said he felt he needed the change because he was better suited to the style of basketball Gonzaga played. The parting was always amicable and Wiltjer said he would continue to seek the advice of Calipari at times. So it probably shouldn’t be a big surprise to see Calipari celebrating another one of his former players getting a shot to play at the highest level.
— Kyle Wiltjer (@kwiltj) June 24, 2016