- Illinois State Redbirds - November 30, 2015 - Rupp Arena - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN2
Like our previous two features on Kentucky’s newcomers, there were a few notes that couldn’t fit in the Kyle Wiltjer story from Friday. Here are a few other interesting tidbits worth perusing through:
- Wiltjer arrived in Lexington in early June. His biggest focus so far has been adjusting to the time constraints of college – when to go to class, when to study, when to hit the gym and when to work out. He’s undeclared at the moment, but he said he’s probably going to major in business because he’s “pretty good at math.”
- Everyone has impressed Wiltjer in the pickup games at the Joe Craft Center. Wiltjer likes the length of Anthony Davis, the quickness of Marquis Teague and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the shooting of Darius Miller and the hops of Ryan Harrow. “Each guy brings a little of his own talent and strength to the table,” Wiltjer said. “Every day you’re playing against the best.”
When I asked Wiltjer about Davis’ comments earlier in the week that his team of Terrence Jones, Stacey Poole, Jarrod Polson and Twany Beckham keeps winning in pickup games, Wiltjer noted that he hasn’t played recently because of a bout with mononucleosis. Wiltjer said he got it after about three weeks on campus. Fortunately for Wiltjer, he said he’s over it and has experienced no weakness or weight loss from it.
- As a native of Portland, Ore., Wiltjer is obviously a long ways away from his home in the Northwest. Being so close to his father, I wondered how homesick Wiltjer might be. He said he’s been so busy with school and workouts that time has kind of flown by and hasn’t allowed him to think about home. He said he misses his dad, Greg, but Wiltjer said his father visited last weekend and that they talk to each other on the phone every other day. As Friday’s story details, Wiltjer’s father played a big role in his development.
- Don’t overlook the importance of making it to all-star games like the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic. Playing in those games afforded Wiltjer the benefit of meeting Teague, Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist well before enrolling at UK. The opportunity to meet each other early has really helped the four freshmen bond, Wiltjer said. Wiltjer is rooming with Teague for the upcoming year.
- Jon Hood’s knee injury doesn’t particularly pertain to Wiltjer, but I was curious about the team’s reaction to such a devastating injury. Wiltjer said it opened his eyes. “It really shows you that anyone can do down at anytime,” Wiltjer said. “Injuries are a part of the game, but anytime someone goes down you feel for them. He’s put in a lot of hard work. We just wish him a fast and speedy recovery.”
- Wiltjer currently stands at 6-foot-10 but he’s hoping he’s not done growing yet. Wiltjer said he’s grown steadily throughout high school without ever going through a big growth spurt, but he said his father, who measures 6-11, shot up in high school. Wiltjer’s hoping something similar will happen to him in college so he can “squeak another couple inches” out of himself.
- Wiltjer on his relationship with Coach Cal: “He’s a guy I can trust. I love his competitiveness on the court. When you’re with the best, they are competitive so when I see a coach competitive like him I saw a guy I can trust who has developed talent in the past so I wanted to be in this system.”
Old-school game part of Kyle Wiltjer’s bag of tricks