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Killeya-Jones’ transfer is not a huge surprise

Sacha Killeya-Jones is no longer a member of the Kentucky basketball team.

The sophomore big man announced his plans to transfer out of the program on Monday, telling his fans and followers on Twitter, “The past two years at Kentucky have been an amazing journey and I want to thank all of my coaches, teammates, and fans who made it possible. After much deliberation with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to ask for my release and explore other opportunities at this time. Thank you for your support through this process!”

To some, the news of Killeya-Jones’ departure came as a huge surprise. But to others, it was somewhat predictable, given some February rumors and now the addition of EJ Montgomery.

We’ll start with the rumors: it was whispered behind the scenes late in the season that Killeya-Jones was considering a transfer after his sophomore year. Only Killeya-Jones and the people close to him know what was really on his mind at the time and to the extent the rumors were true, but it’s believed that he was strongly considering a transfer, likely due to lack of playing time in his second season.

Then came the SEC tournament, when Killeya-Jones saw an increase in minutes due to the injury to Jarred Vanderbilt and the poor performing of Nick Richards. Killeya-Jones saw significantly more playing time in UK’s postseason and made key plays in the SEC championship and on into the NCAA tournament. His play and his importance to the team brought new life and new confidence to his career, it seemed. But did it change his mind about his plans and expectations moving forward? It’s hard to say as only he knows.

But even with his new confidence, there are still too many pieces when looking ahead to UK’s frontcourt next season, and somebody has to be the odd man out. Assuming PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt return, Killeya-Jones and Richards would’ve battled for the third option, leaving the other to sit back in fourth in the rotation. Then things got even messier when five-star power forward EJ Montgomery threw his name into the mix, and now we have Killeya-Jones throwing in the towel to seek other options, only hours after the addition Montgomery.

It’s unfortunate he decided to move on because we got a taste of what he could be in his third year in Lexington. But it’s also an easy decision to understand considering he could’ve very well fallen to the end of the bench as the team’s veteran junior and never met his full potential. At least by going the transfer route, he can find an opportunity that will allow him to grow as a player without so many unknowns regarding his future. He’ll be missed, but it’s in his best interest to find a new home to make the most of his college career.

As for the team he leaves behind, I think they’ll be just fine.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

30 Comments for Killeya-Jones’ transfer is not a huge surprise



  1. Jpcat15
    3:08 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

    I typically am in step with Coach Cal on most things, but did not understand why Jones did not play a lot more. He certainly outperformed Richards. Of course, I am not at practice. Things must have looked different in that atmosphere. I believe he will prove to be a good player wherever he lands.



    • J-Dub421
      3:32 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      SKJ did play a lot more than Richards. People get hung up on who is starting, when starting doesn’t really matter.



    • gobble gobble
      4:55 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      Yea… Richards didn’t plan much at all towards the end of the season



    • ClutchCargo
      5:39 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      The numbers say Richards played about 80 more minutes during the season, but SKJ missed a few games, so that’s about right.



    • chris43
      5:39 am April 10, 2018 Permalink

      I wish that he would have stayed and fought for his minutes/position. But I can also understand why he left considering he outplayed Nick Richards by a MILE and still didn’t start over him. I’d also say Richards played more minutes or at least similar minutes. I’m a huge Cal guy so let’s hope what he sees in Richards emerges strongly by the start of next season. If we keep Vanderbilt and Washington the blow won’t be that bad. But we’ll see…



  2. Underdog
    3:09 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

    I disagree with “… it’s in his best interest to find a new home to make the most of his college career.”

    The grass is not greener elsewhere. He would have been a valuable, maybe invaluable contributor next year and as a senior, and probably would be drafted top 20 two years from now.

    It was in HIS best interest to stay and avail himself of the opportunity to grow and develop here. He will play pro ball, and with some maturity, will likely play in the NBA. He’s a 4 year player. He’s a big who can shoot. Give him some more muscle and maturity and he would have averaged 8 points and 6 rebounds next year, and 13 points and 7.5 rebounds his senior year, preparing the way to get him drafted in the first round, ASSUMING he worked hard and improved.

    His departure hurts the team’s experience. Now we must retain Wenyen and esp Jarred. Jarred is our most important recruit. I believe Nick will develop too. He just needs time.



    • KYFAN4LYFE
      3:29 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      “Yeah, well, that’s just like, you know…your opinion man.”



    • ClutchCargo
      3:34 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      He definitely should have stayed put and allowed random people on the internet tell him what is in his best interest? Got it.



    • T-wah
      4:32 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      ?????? Now, that’s hilarious! I love it! You are spot on, sir. ?



    • Ez21
      4:10 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      How is it u think he’s gonna avg 8 and 6 as at best the 4th big?



  3. plumloopy
    3:20 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

    With these rapid fire news stories, it’s like we had about three hours to be happy about EJ and then this. SKJ was a mid range jumper at this point, a known quantity with experience and EJ is a 3 pointer, lower percentage and higher upside. Everyone loves the 3, don’t they?



    • ClutchCargo
      3:30 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      It’s ok to still be happy about EJ. You realize these guys are free to make their own decisions about what is best for them, right?



    • gobble gobble
      4:57 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      Huh? EJ Monty is a 3 pointer? Is that figuratively?… bc EJ isn’t a great 3 point shooter as of now.



    • Ez21
      5:14 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      No hes saying u know what u get w SKJ as opposed to the bright lights of a new 5 Star quantity which is an unknown



  4. Rod Crandler
    3:20 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

    You have to have experience when you reach the bright lights and big stage of the final four. Without Miller we probably lose in 2012. Won’t win it all playing JV teams against Varsity teams when a 3* senior handles the big stage better than a 5* freshman.



    • timbo
      4:19 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      You need to look at Villanova’s roster pal. Count the seniors with “have to have experience” and get back to me.



    • chrisg18
      4:51 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      I didn’t know seniors were the only ones with experience.



    • Rod Crandler
      5:23 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      Didn’t say they had to be seniors. Said they need to have some experience. Nova had players that had been there before. Just like our 98 team, they had players that knew what it took to win on that stage.



  5. truebluethroughandthrough
    3:26 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

    I’ll take the talent every day Rod Handler… That’s got us a national championship and several final four appearance



    • chrisg18
      3:34 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      Talent like Nick Richards who SKJ clearly outplayed this past season?



  6. truebluethroughandthrough
    3:26 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

    ***Crandler 😉



  7. chrisg18
    3:33 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

    Marcus Lee. Charles Matthews. Now SKJ. All guys who were not one and done (even if they wanted to be) but were more of your normal 4 year college players. In the case of Lee and Matthews, guys we could have definitely used. For as much as Cal can get freshman to buy in to the team and sacrifice for the greater good, he cannot get kids who are not one or two year players to buy in to the normal 4 year process. The only kids who have done that have been KY kids (and Poythress – but his was due to injury). Talent wise we may be ok, but if this trend continues it will be tough for Cal to win another championship at UK. As much as Matt wants to downplay experience, NCAA tournament results tell a different story. You can win with a few freshman, but not ALL freshman. Experience definitely plays a part in the tournament. Gotta have a mix.



    • BeejeCat
      3:56 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      Agree with most of your points here but I think it’s worth noting that the l facade of basketball has changed significantly with the one and done rule. For that reason, I don’t think it’s fair to look at statistics of older or younger teams’ performance in the NCAA tourney. It is great to have veteran leaders but talent is more likely to win. Even in the big games. If you want to look at NCAA results, it would be more fair to use the last 10 years as the sample set, which is a very small window.



    • secrick
      4:23 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      We would have won that with me as the senior and i am awful. AD was to good.



  8. RealCatsFan
    4:46 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

    This is very disappointing to me. I am of the opinion that Cal needs to get a core of 2 or 3 players to hang around 3 or 4 years to provide stability and experience. Some years he is not going to get the top recruits that he wants, and for those years you need some experienced players to lean on. SKJ looked really good at times, and hesitant at others. Not sure if that had anything to do with the quick hook he got after making mistakes, but at times it seemed that way. KSR actually wrote an article earlier this year addressing the fact that Cal is having trouble hanging on to multi-year players because they get tired of being recruited over. I love having Cal as our coach, and can’t think of a better man for the job, but I think he is going to have to figure out a way to ensure some continuity in his program from year to year. Sad to think that Senior Night is going to be reserved for walk-ons if this trend continues.



    • runningunnin.454
      5:06 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

      Disappointment for me, as well. His experience would have been valuable, and I would rather he had decided to compete for the minutes.



  9. Catlogic15
    6:10 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

    At least perhaps this means Vanderbilt is returning.



  10. TheMaxCat
    6:37 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

    I read a lot of talk of how SKJ outplayed Richards, and the most popular rebuttal being we don’t see what goes on at practice but there is another way to look at their comparison. If you simply compare their Freshman campaigns then the nod appears to go to Richards and as much as we saw SKJ improve from his frosh. to soph. seasons, I am optimistic that there is even a greater chance for improvement to be seen with Richards ( due to the .experience garnered as freshmen and a greater learning curve due to fewer years years of having played organized hoops). I like SKJ but believe he saw Richards, Washington, Vanderbilt, Gabriel and now Montgomery ( and possibly someone else) as all getting front-court minutes ahead of him. He is doing what is best for him and UK will be fine. I have no issue with any of it and wish him the best.



  11. BigBlue4EverUK
    7:42 pm April 9, 2018 Permalink

    Not a surprise at all…I said during the season we will
    have a player or two transfer.



    • UK Big Board Update
      9:29 am April 10, 2018 Permalink

      Yep, happens at every school in the country.