As you probably already know, Coach Cal’s website has been doing profiles on all the program’s newcomers. All four freshmen and Ryan Harrow will be featured in the getting-to-know-you pieces, and today’s focused on Kyle Wiltjer. It details Wiltjer’s ‘old school’ game, which has been helped along the way by studying film of past greats like Larry Bird. They talk about his hook shot, also a favorite of your truly, and how his dad helped him develop many of his skills as a versatile big man.
One thing the article also touches on is Wiltjer’s reasoning behind choosing UK, when he would have been the star of so many other school’s recruiting class. If you didn’t already love him, his answer to the question should push you in the right direction:
That begs the question, why come to UK? Why not go to another school where the chance for immediate stardom is more likely?
“During my whole career I’ve tried to surround myself with the best players,” said Wiltjer, who chose UK over North Carolina, Wake Forest, California, Texas and Gonzaga. “Even when I picked my high school, no one thought I would even get minutes. I just like to prove people wrong. You get better in games, but you really get good if you’re playing against the best every day in practice because it pushes you being around that high of a level. Going against the best brings out the best in you, plus it’s fun.”
Like the legends he used to watch as a kid, Wiltjer welcomes the spotlight. Flourishing at the game’s biggest stage under the one of the sport’s most recognizable coaches is one of the big reasons Wiltjer felt so at home in Kentucky, a cross-country trip away from his native Portland.
“I love basketball, I’ve done it my whole life and I want to be on the biggest stage,” Wiltjer said. “It’s an honor to be in this environment and this kind of basketball town. I’m ready for it.”
We’re ready for it too.