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.