Kentucky Wildcats' E.J. Floreal dropping basketball to join father's UK track squad

Popular Kentucky reserve basketball player E.J. Floreal announced Tuesday that he is leaving John Calipari's team in order to join his father's track-and-field program at UK.

Floreal, who played the last three years for the basketball team, excelled as a 100- and 200-meter sprinter in high school. He will have two years of eligibility remaining in track and field, which has reached new heights at UK under the direction of Edrick Floreal Sr.

“First of all I just want to thank Coach Calipari, my coaches and my teammates for the opportunity I’ve had the last three years,” EJ Floréal said in a statement released by UK. “One of my goals was to play alongside the best players in the country and to grow and develop, and I think I’ve done that.

“Sometimes other opportunities come along. I want to use my athleticism to truly excel, and after seeing what my dad has done with his track and field athletes, I felt like this was my best chance to be the best version of myself. I want to make something clear: This was completely my decision and my decision alone.

“I know this transition won’t be easy, but I was bred for this. As much as I love basketball, track is in my blood. I’m excited for the next step.”

Floreal finished fourth in the 100 meters and third in the 200 meters during his lone season competing in the Kentucky state track and field championships after moving from Palo Alto, Calif. He won the Lexington city and regional championships in both events for 2013.

“I’m looking forward to having EJ on the team and watching him reach his potential,” Coach Floréal said. “I’m thankful to Coach Calipari for giving him an opportunity to play basketball at UK.”

Floréal’s basketball career at Kentucky will come to an end after three NCAA Tournament appearances, trips to the 2014 and 2015 Final Fours, and Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament championships in 2015 and 2016. He was a two-time SEC Honor Roll member. He played 29 games in three seasons, and tallied three points, two steals, a block and eight rebounds at UK.

“I’m really happy for EJ and this opportunity to run for his father, who is one of the best in the world at what he does,” UK men’s basketball head coach John Calipari said. “EJ has elite athleticism and I’m happy for him that he’ll truly get a chance to shine. I want to thank him for his hard work and dedication to our basketball program. He was a great teammate, he improved immensely over the last three years and he was a big part of our success.”

EJ Floréal’s parents were both decorated athletes in their time as elite competitors.

Floréal Sr. graduated from Arkansas in 1990. He captured five NCAA triple jump titles and four NCAA team championships. He also competed for Canada at the 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympic Games. He was the 1990 Commonwealth Games Bronze Medalist in the triple jump.

EJ Floréal’s mother is LaVonna Martin-Floréal, the 1992 Olympic silver medalist in the 100m hurdles. She won three individual NCAA Championships, and eight SEC Championships as a Tennessee hurdler and sprinter.

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