Portland, Ore. (Jesuit)
Preview Podcast:Publisher Brett Dawson, Recruiting Editor Steve Jones and Staff Writers T.J. Walker and Aaron Smith break down their expectations of Kyle Wiltjer.
Rewind: No returning UK player has more impactful experience in a Kentucky uniform than Wiltjer, who played in all 40 games last season and averaged five points per game. Though he came to Lexington with a reputation for a sweet hook shot and an inside-out game, he was primarily a shooting specialist on the loaded 2011-12 team. Wiltjer shot 43.8 percent from three-point range, including 51.6 percent in Southeastern Conference play. His 35 three-pointers made were third-most on the team, despite his limited minutes (11.6 per game, seventh on the team). Wiltjer had a career-high 24 points against Loyola and 19 against Penn State.
Fast Forward: Can Wiltjer expand his game at the collegiate level to resemble the more well-rounded one he had as a high school player? That's the key question, and it likely centers on his continuing physical maturity. Wiltjer improved defensively over the course of his freshman season, but he was too easy for more mature players to bully, and he often got his hands on a rebound only to lose the fight for it. If Wiltjer makes strides as a defender and rebounder, he should see starter's minutes, and that could lead to some big scoring nights. He should continue to see open three-pointers as a sophomore, but he'll need to continue to expand his ability to score in the post and put the ball on the floor. If he does, he could be UK's most versatile scorer.
John Calipari says: "I asked Kyle Wiltjer…, 'Are you shaving yet?' He said no. You think he's gonna go in the (NBA next spring) if he doesn't shave? He can't even get a milk mustache. But you know what? They're saying he's going to be one of the top (college) players and if he is, he'll have an opportunity. We'll be fine with it."