Lee, Matthews join small group of UK transfers – The Courier-Journal

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Former Wildcat Kyle Wiltjer still loves UK, years after transferring. Now he’s chasing his NBA dream.
Kyle Tucker

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Early departures from John Calipari’s Kentucky program have generally revolved around the NBA draft, but Marcus Lee and Charles Matthews have elected to follow the road less traveled by transferring.

Lee and Matthews are the fifth and sixth players to transfer from Kentucky in Calipari’s seven seasons as head coach. The previous Wildcats who made the decision experienced varied individual results after leaving Lexington, but none of them matched the NCAA tournament success they might have enjoyed at UK. Former Wildcat Kyle Wiltjer still has a slim chance to become the first Calipari transfer drafted, but history suggests Lee and Matthews have their work cut out if they want to reach the NBA.

Here’s a look at each of the Calipari era transfers and what their post-UK careers suggest for the future of Lee and Matthews.

Darnell Dodson – After averaging six points and 2.5 rebounds per game in 35 games on Calipari’s first UK team, Dodson left the Wildcats prior to the 2010-11 season. The exact reason for Dodson’s departure was never provided, though Calipari initially suggested in a Facebook post the former junior-college transfer would have a chance to work his way back onto the team. Hours after Calipari announced Dodson was officially no longer a part of the program at 2010 media day, Dodson was arrested in Lexington for disorderly conduct. He eventually landed at Southern Mississippi where he was suspended after another arrest and later reinstated to the team. In one season on the court at Southern Miss, Dodson averaged 11.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 24 games. He appeared in one NCAA tournament game after leaving UK.

Stacey Poole – Poole signed with UK as a four-star recruit in 2010 but never found the success of classmates Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb or Brandon Knight. As a freshman, Poole scored four total points in 16 games. Poole returned to UK for the 2011 fall semester but sat out the team’s first exhibition game before ultimately deciding to transfer. He landed at Georgia Tech, where he played with his younger brother Solomon and averaged 2.7 points and 1.2 rebounds per game in 41 games across two seasons. Poole would have been unlikely to play a significant role on the Wildcats’ 2012 national championship team, but he would have at least received a championship ring. Instead, he never played in a NCAA tournament game at Georgia Tech, where his scholarship was not renewed for his final season of eligibility.

Ryan Harrow – After transferring to UK from North Carolina State, Harrow took the brunt of the criticism during UK’s 2013 NIT season, when he averaged 9.9 points and 2.8 assists per game. The lasting image of Harrow’s career may have been him sitting in a locker room in Nashville in tears after UK’s SEC tournament loss ensured the Wildcats would miss the NCAA tournament. During the summer of 2013, Harrow was awarded a hardship waiver to transfer to Georgia State and play immediately so he could be closer to his ailing father. Harrow averaged 18 points and 3.9 assists per game in two seasons at Georgia State but missed his chance to play in the NCAA tournament when a hamstring injury prevented him from playing in the Panthers’ lone tournament game during his senior season. He now plays professionally in Greece.

Kyle Wiltjer – Wiltjer was a productive piece off the bench during Kentucky’s 2012 title run as a freshman, but he was overmatched at times as a featured member of the 2013 NIT team despite winning the Southeastern Conference’s Sixth Man of the Year award. Like Lee, sitting out a year as a Division I transfer was actually a selling point in Wiltjer’s decision to transfer. He used the season away from the court at Gonzaga to improve his conditioning and fitness. That work paid off as he earned second-team all-American honors as a junior then averaged 20.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as a senior. While Wiltjer could have played on two more Final Four teams at UK, he reached two Elite Eights with Gonzaga. DraftExpress.com currently ranks him as the 89th best prospect in the 2016 draft class.

Email Jon Hale at jahale@courier-journal.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonHale_CJ.

Lee, Matthews join small group of UK transfers – The Courier-Journal

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