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Kyryl Natyazhko leaves the Wildcats to pursue career in Europe

Kyryl Natyazhko in a happy moment, when Arizona beat Texas in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Arizona’s roster turnover continued late Wednesday afternoon with the announcement that center Kyryl Natyazhko is skipping his senior season in order to pursue a professional career in Europe.

That news came on the heels of point guard Josiah Turner’s decision to transfer.

Coach Sean Miller had high hopes for Natyazhko at the beginning of last season, saying in the preseason he didn’t want to have to use power forward Jesse Perry at center.

Natyazhko started the first six games but failed to produce, and Miller changed course by pushing Perry to the middle and going with a small lineup.

“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,” Miller said in a statement.

“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. …

“All of us at Arizona support Kyryl’s desire to begin his professional career. As a part of our program for three years, Kyryl represented himself as a great teammate, a hard worker and a good student off the court. We wish him well in his professional career.”

Natyazhko, who has played for the Ukranian national team, rarely got off the bench in the second half of the season, not playing in 12 of the final 18 games. His role wasn’t likely to increase with the addition of three freshman big men.

For his three-year career, Natyazhko averaged 1.7 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. He averaged a mere 1.1 points and 1.6 rebounds last season, when UA needed his bulk.

Even though Natyazhko didn’t develop as hoped, Miller never spoke — at least publicly — about any lack of effort or bad practice habits.

“I’d like to thank the fans, my teammates and the coaching staff at Arizona,” Natyazhko said in a statement.

“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.”

So, Arizona now has a scholarship available for next season, with Miller likely to target another guard, which is more of a need right now anyway. Here is how the roster looks, by class:

–Seniors (2): F Solomon Hill, G/F Kevin Parrom

–Juniors (3): PG Jordin Mayes, F Matt Korcheck (planned redshirt), PG T.J. McConnell (must sit out after transfer from Duquesne)

–Sophomores (2): G Nick Johnson, F/C Angelo Chol

–Freshmen (4): F Brandon Ashley, F Grant Jerrett, C Kaleb Tarczewski, G Gabe York

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