We’ll never know what kind of impact Kim Aiken Jr. could have had on last year’s Arizona team, but we may eventually find out what caused him to abruptly step away from that squad midway through his one and only season with the Wildcats.
Aiken has entered the NCAA transfer portal, giving the graduate transfer a chance to play for another team after appearing in just seven games for the UA in 2021-22.
The 6-foot-7 Aiken played his first three seasons at Eastern Washington, where in 2020-21 he was the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year and helped the Eagles reach the NCAA Tournament. Aiken originally committed to Arizona shortly before Sean Miller was fired last April, then backed off that pledge and committed to Washington State but wasn’t admitted into that school’s graduate program.
New UA coach Tommy Lloyd re-extended an offer to play for Arizona, and Aiken signed on, logging 95 minutes over the Wildcats’ first seven games while averaging 5.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal. He shot 48.1 percent from the field and made 9 of 16 3-pointers.
But Aiken was absent from a Dec. 8 game at McKale Center against then-unbeaten Wyoming, “personal reasons” cited as the reason for him not being there. After that game, Lloyd declined to go into specifics about Aiken, saying “he’s got a personal issue. I think we all need to respect his privacy right now. He’s working through it. At some point I’d love to have him back with us and the sooner the better for me, but again it’s Kim Aiken’s personal issue that I really don’t have any influence.”
By February Aiken was removed from the team’s online roster.
Assuming he does land with another team, Aiken no doubt will be asked about the circumstances that caused him to leave Arizona. Whether he decides to elaborate is another story.