Curious why you haven’t seen any UK players on the rosters for this summer’s FIBA U19 World Championships? Cal tells Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News that his players declined offers to play in order to come to Lexington to prepare for the national championship run.
“Most of it is, they didn’t want to play. I’m not forcing kids to do anything. I think the reason they all turned it down is, they want to get started.”
All six of UK’s incoming McDonald’s All-Americans were eligible for the team, but decided to come to Lexington early to train this summer. Julius Randle actually approached Cal and told him he would rather not go, as did Willie Cauley-Stein, who was offered an invitation to play in the World University Games for Team USA:
“Willie said, ‘This is not the summer for me to do this stuff. I just can’t wait to get back. I want to get prepared.’ I’m happy they’re thinking in those terms. They know the spotlight’s on them.”
The one exception is Kyle Wiltjer, who plans to try out for the Canadian national team this summer, a decision which Cal fully supports. The players will return to campus in early June for an eight-week summer session, save a few freshman whose high school classes will keep them an extra few weeks.
The season starts now.