Natyazhko goes pro, becomes sixth loss for Wildcats in three years

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 11: Kyryl Natyazhko #1 of the Arizona Wildcats grabs a rebound over Alex Stepheson #1 of the USC Trojans in the first half in the semifinals of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 11, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Arizona's Kyryl Natyazhko announced that he's leaving the Wildcats program to pursue a professional career overseas, a team release said on Wednesday.

In what has become a wild week of two commitments from transfers and two Arizona Wildcats going out the door -- if you've been living under a rock Josiah Turner left the program today as well -- the 6-foot-11 center leaves after three mostly unproductive seasons with Arizona.

In those three seasons, the Wildcats have lost six players before they reached their senior seasons.

His defection doesn't really come as a surprise, nor does it jostle much of the depth chart. Natyazhko's development would have been icing on the cake for Sean Miller's team, but after having an open opportunity to gain control of the center spot this season, Natyazhko lost it, then got buried on the bench despite the Wildcats running out 6-foot-7 forward Jesse Perry as the only viable option at the 5 spot.

"I'd like to thank the fans, my teammates and the coaching staff at Arizona," Natyazhko said in the press release. "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. "

Natyazhko will apparently finish off his UA degree this December, and his desire to leave came a few weeks ago, according to Miller.

He leaves with averages of 1.7 points and 2.0 rebounds per game, his most notable contributions coming toward the end of last season. He was in the rotation and helped the Wildcats stave off Texas Longhorns big man Tristan Thompson, the No. 4 overall NBA Draft pick, in the NCAA Tournament.

The transfer of the Ukrainian opens up another spot for Miller to fill.

In Miller's first three recruiting classes, today's news marks the fourth and fifth players (out of just 12 players) to leave the program for reasons other than NBA aspirations. Add in Derrick Williams' departure and chronic injuries to Kevin Parrom and Jordin Mayes, and the boat has constantly been rocking under Miller's brief tenure in Tucson.

Presumably, the seas are about to settle. At least, Arizona fans would hope so.

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