Kiwi big man Tai Wynyard has been granted a full release from the University of Kentucky, effective immediately.
Wynyard will now be free to transfer to another school, or play professional basketball overseas; it’s also possible he returns to New Zealand.
Wynyard was suspended by Kentucky this season for violating team rules. He allegedly went to on-campus parties with an armed bodyguard.
The 20-year-old released the following statement:
“I want to thank everyone who has played a part in my two and a half years at Kentucky – everyone from the coaches to my teammates to the managers and the staff,” Wynyard said. “Everyone played huge roles in my time here. I’ve been lucky enough to have gained experiences one could only hope to have in a lifetime. I’ve had the privilege of playing with and against some of the best talent in the country at Kentucky and my hope is to one day follow in their footsteps.
“This decision wasn’t an easy one for me to make and I appreciate the commitment and support Coach Cal and the staff gave me in reaching it. My goals haven’t changed. After meeting with Cal, something that he always talks about is doing what’s best for the individual. Everyone is on a different path. Although that path will be somewhere else, I’ll never forget this place. From day one, beginning with my first home game vs. Louisville in 2015, this place has shown me nothing but love. I want to thank you for your support. Kentucky will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Kentucky head coach John Calipari praised Wynyard for his short time with the school and hopes he lands in a good situation.
“We talk all the time about this being a new experience for our players, but I believe it was even tougher for Tai because of where he came from. To come to a new country in the middle of the season and try to carve out a role was difficult, but I’m proud of Tai for the person he’s grown into,” said Calipari.
“I know this decision wasn’t easy for him because he is just now starting to learn who he is and how he can contribute to a team. We are sad to see him go, but he has our full support and we will do whatever we can to make sure he can continue to pursue his dreams. That’s what this is all about here at Kentucky.”
There’s a strong possibility that Wynyard returns home to New Zealand. The NZ NBL season is set to tip-off at the end of April and could be an appealing destination for him if the college offers are unattractive.