Just hours after the Arizona Wildcats announced starting point guard Josiah Turner was leaving the program, junior big man Kyryl Natyazhko is also leaving to pursue a professional career overseas. After playing a big role as a freshman, Natyazhko has failed to live up to expectations, sitting the bench for most of conference play. With three incoming freshmen set to claim a bulk of the minutes next season, many felt Natyazhko would leave Tucson.
"I'd like to thank the fans, my teammates and the coaching staff at Arizona," said Natyazhko. "It has been a wonderful experience for me to study and play here. I appreciate the efforts of everyone who helped me develop as a person and as a player. As hard as it is for me to leave, at this time I have to do what is best for me and my family and pursue these professional opportunities, but I plan on earning my degree in the near future. "
Through 91 games in his three seasons, the 6'11 center averaged less than two points and two rebounds per-game. Despite having the size to dominate the paint on defense, Natyazhko was more of a defensive liability this past season due to a lack of athleticism.
"Two weeks ago Kyryl and I met regarding his future, and at that time he expressed to me his desire to pursue professional opportunities overseas," said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. "We agreed that he would only do it if an excellent opportunity presented itself. Since our meeting those types of opportunities, in fact, have become available to him."
The Wildcats now have just 11 players remaining on their roster. Expect coach Miller to look at adding yet another 2012 recruit or potential transfer player.