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Could Kyle Wiltjer be a breakout performer in 2012-2013?


Fran Fraschilla of ESPN released an article two days ago in which he predicted eight breakout college basketball stars for 2012-2013. Instead of clamoring over the highly touted recruits who will be invading campuses across the country over the summer, Fraschilla instead chose to focus on returning players.


“It’s always nice when a player who hasn’t had instant success waits his turn then takes advantage of an opportunity to become a star. Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey combined for three total starts in their Kansas Jayhawks career prior to this season. Both played behind future NBA first-round picks Cole Aldrich, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris, and while they certainly improved by playing against those guys in practice, few knew what those younger players were capable of.”


Though Fraschilla’s list of eight probable breakout players for next season did not include Kyle Wiltjer of Kentucky, Wiltjer’s situation last season seams comparable to Robinson and Withey’s. Wiltjer played limited minutes off the bench behind big name stars such as Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis and Darius Miller. Wiltjer found himself in more of a role player scenario, relied upon mostly for the threat of his outside shooting. Wiltjer was inserted into games mainly to stretch defenses out and keep them honest, opening up holes on the inside for his teammates.


Wiltjer’s minutes were limited in part due to the talented players ahead of him in the rotation, but also in part due to his lack of quickness on defense. As the season progressed, Wiltjer improved defensively and proved to no longer be as big of a liability as he once was at the beginning of the season. Still, Wiltjer never broke into a role this past season where he received a significant number of minutes during games.


With the departure of essentially six Kentucky starters (Darius Miller played starter minutes), and a 4-man recruiting class (as of now) along with the addition or Ryan Harrow coming in for Kentucky next season, Wiltjer will likely find himself in an expanded role. Without Doron Lamb’s consistent outside shooting, having Wiltjer’s smooth shooting ability on the perimeter will be crucial for Kentucky’s success. Calipari has had his best success at Kentucky when he has outside shooting threats such as Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller. Wiltjer seems the most likely to fill that void for next year’s team.


Could Kyle Wiltjer end up being a breakout performer in the 2012-2013 season? Many have made the assertion that Wiltjer could in fact be one of the top 3 offensive options for Kentucky heading into next season. The opportunity certainly appears to be available to him, especially if he can continue to improve on his quickness and defensive skill set over the summer.

Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

34 Comments for Could Kyle Wiltjer be a breakout performer in 2012-2013?

  1. mark p
    4:06 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Definitely! Harrow will be a seasoned point guard almost immediately and Wiltjer will be much stronger and aggresive next year. We will be fine.

  2. Big Mike
    4:06 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink


  3. Big Mike
    4:06 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Aww. Second. Agree with first.

  4. GapToothDanny
    4:08 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    No. Can’t think of any player ever improving their “quickness”.

  5. FlashOfBlue
    4:14 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Better be working on defense over the summer…..

  6. SuperTroy
    4:15 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    4. Players improve quickness all the time. Jorts improved his quickness a TON in his breakout season. He slimed down and toned up. That’s one way of doing it. Wiltjer won’t have to slim down, but once he works on putting on some muscle, he could be absolutly deadly. He’s got a gorgeous outside shot, and his inside game can be learned over the course of the Summer. Once he commits to getting better, the sky is the limit for this kid.

  7. wbguitar1
    4:15 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    sleep on this kid at your own peril; 2 things are keeping him from stardom – strength & confidence. He can start getting both over the summer. If he is strong enough, he’ll play more, then the confidence will come. Expecting big things from him next season…

  8. AWAT
    4:25 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Like you guys have mentioned, he needs to get faster and stronger. That CAN happen. I can see him in some pick and pop type situations next year. The kid can stroke it, he’s just going to have to be able to defend his position.

  9. Mickey
    4:28 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    this kid needs speed, greasy lightnin speed

  10. Jason
    4:37 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I like Kyle, but he needs to get faster and stronger, in that order. I think he can do it, but it may be a total of 3 years before he gets to the next level.

  11. Freethrow
    4:40 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I can’t see Kyle’s speed increasing that much but I can see his strength and aggressiveness improving. Hopefully he will use this summer to add more to his game. Jorts did it in a season and so can Kyle. Would love to see it happen.

  12. justwonderin
    4:42 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    For our sake he better be

  13. UK Homer
    4:47 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    We will need him. I’m hoping for double digit scoring and 45%+ from 3.

  14. Sully
    4:50 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer will be fine, and possibly outstanding. We didn’t get to see him much in the post this year because of the presence of Davis and because of Wiltjer’s value as a long-range shooter, but the kids has McHale-like footwork and will score in bunches down there, next year and beyond. He’ll have some struggles on defense, but he’s going to get bigger (his dad was a decent big man back in the ’70s), and overall will be a big plus. We’re really fortunate to have him.

  15. Marcus L. Owens
    4:50 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He will have to be. I think he is still growing as well, he is so skilled, Im excited to see how Cal uses him. He is also a capable ball handler for a big and is also an excellent passer. Signing Noel immediately made Kyle a better defender. The neat thing about his game is that at 6’10 he can play 3-4-5. He can play the high post against zone and because of his passing ability he can create easy shots for Noel and Cauley in the low post. He has to develop his body and become more serious and focused no more you tube videos he will have to be a leader and a go to guy. I think he can make a Darius miller type of impact on next years team; offense stabilizer, big shot maker, great passer, and block a few shots.

  16. Doubting Thomas
    4:52 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Kyle can improve his speed and his strength. The first player that comes to my mind when thinking about improving speed is none other than Pistol Pete. Speed does not come from feet alone, Pete was able improve his hand eye coordination and speed tremendously while he was in college. By the time he got to the pros you could definitely see the difference in his game. He was deceptionally fast and when he played the tempo of the game went up several beats. Show them what you can do Kyle. BBN is behind you and looks forward to seeing more of you next year. Trust me on that one. GO CATS!!!!

  17. frantic29
    5:09 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer has the offensive ability to be the leading scorer on the team next year. Like all of you said he needs to get stronger/quicker. He made great strides towards that over the last 2 months of the season. Opposing offenses would still pick on him but he did a much better job of keeping them in front of him. At 6’10” if he can just keep people in front of him them put on the muscle so they don’t just go through him he will be money. He knows how to play the game just needs his body to catch up with the other guys.

  18. Kansas city jojos
    5:15 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Key words there – “as big of” a liability. For the kid to make an impact he needs to get better on d and be stronger with the ball. Point blank period. Period.

  19. TomKat
    5:18 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He better be a breakout perfomer if we have any chance to win it all.

  20. OhioJoe4UK
    5:18 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer has a bunch of plyometrics and strength conditioning in his future if he wants to excel. If he works hard and conditions right, there’s no reason that he won’t enjoy a break-out season.

  21. Jeff
    5:51 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He will be the next Kyle Korver.

  22. Carl
    5:56 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    If Wiltjer can come back next season with Thomas Robinson’s physique then I would expect a breakout season.

  23. kdh2011
    6:02 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer scored efficiently and, while he played limited minutes, he used a high percentage of available possessions while he was on the floor. That spells breakout.

  24. Rich
    6:07 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer obviously needs work on defense but he REALLY needs work on his reflexive moves. He just seemed to always be a half behind rebounds, loose balls, etc. Once he develops this quickness, and I’m confident he will, he’ll come around on defense and he should be fine.

  25. Yroc53
    6:46 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I still feel like Wiltjer is still one year away from being a solid contributor. It’s going to take a lot of work to improve the areas he needs to work at. He should find plenty of minutes this season, especially if we dont land anyone else. The sad part is if we get the recruiting class we think we should in 2013 then Kyle will probably be stuck behind talent agian that season and we would have to wait till his senior season to be a huge force.

  26. Mudcreekmark
    6:48 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer will lead the team in scoring next year if he can get 25 plus minutes a game. He has to get stronger with the ball and has to try to improve his foot speed but the kid can flat out play on the offensive end of the floor. I’m not as concerned about his defense as I am with his rebounding the ball strong and hanging on to the ball once he comes down with it. Noel can erase some of his defensive mistakes.

  27. KYinMontana
    7:33 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Kyle Wiltjer improved every game this past season, on limited minutes. His shooting improved, his confidence improved, his defense improved, and his game improved. Just wait. Larry Bird was as slow as a turtle, wasn’t really that quick either, couldn’t jump but about 7″ vertically — but he was smart, postitioned himself, saw the court, knew where to be and what to do, and could shoot, which led to assists when needed. It’s not where Kyle is right now, it’s how much more he works and improves, and where he ends up. He has 3 more years — just wait.

  28. tyrus
    8:09 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer will show improvement each year and so will the vidoes he does. I’m expecting his junior year to be his breakout season.

  29. Marty
    8:09 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I believe Kyle Wiltjer is going to have a break out year in 2013. He is a ultimate prime time team player. He proved that this year by coming in off the bench and doing whatever Coach Cal asked him to do. Let’s not forget his major contribution to our National Championship. He came in and made big shots when the team needed Them. Thank you

  30. Nice Post!
    8:11 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Good post #28…

  31. Dane Brammage
    9:07 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Quick answer = no

    KYle Wiltjer = role player.

    In time, he will shine.

    IF he is drafted, it will follow graduation.

  32. Mudcreekmark
    9:12 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    31)I have to disagree. Why wouldn’t Wiltjer start this coming year? Who is going to beat him out? You have to have someone to spread the floor by knocking down threes and Wiltjer looks as though he will be the only one on the team so far next year that is capable of doing that.

  33. bmt22033
    10:22 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I think the answer to this question lies in whether Anthony Bennett commits to Kentucky or not. Wiltjer is a good perimeter shooter and yes, he did improve defensively since the beginning of the season but I definitely wouldn’t call him “good” from a defensive standpoint. Bennett would be the more athletic player and if he’s also a better defender, then Wiltjer might still come off the bench (which is not necessarily a bad thing).

  34. Playersfan
    8:01 am April 21, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer has everything except strong hands, strong body, and a little weight. He knows what to do, he can shoot and has a great touch. But when he is hacked or jostled on a rebound or shot he can’t control ball. Training will help, but playing head to head with somebody stronger and tougher, with no fouls called, in practice is the best medicine. Its either survive or give up. I don’t think he will give up. Maturity also helps.