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Wiltjer, Blackshear among SI’s Potential 2012 “Breakout Players”

Aw yiss.

Rob Dauster, one of the few writers at Sports Illustrated who hasn’t formerly worked for the NY Times, recently took a look at the upcoming college basketball season and put together a list of ten potential breakout players.  Because these are “breakout” players, no freshmen were included, regardless of hype.  No Noels, Poythresses, WCSs, or Goodwins made the list.  So you figure that hurts Kentucky’s chances to get a player on the list, right?  Not so.

The Bluegrass has a bevy of breakout ballers, as both UK and Louisville have a potential sophomore star next season.  First, the bad news:

Wayne Blackshear, Louisville: Blackshear is one of the guys that everyone is expecting to have a big year in 2012-13. After battling a shoulder injury for much of his freshman campaign, the former top 30 recruit rebounded and put together a couple of impressive performances once he returned — 13 points in his debut against West Virginia, nine points in 14 minutes in the Final Four against Kentucky. Blackshear could end up being the difference between Louisville having a good year and Louisville being a national title favorite. The Cardinals are tough defensively, they have perimeter playmakers (Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Luke Hancock) and they have talent and size up front (Gorgui Dieng, Chane Behanan, Montrezl Harrell). What they don’t have is a consistent, big-time scorer on the perimeter, a guy that can ensure the floor is spread with his ability to shoot. That’s Blackshear when he’s at his best.

From the one game I saw him play, Blackshear did look like a pretty freakish athlete.  If I recall correctly, he had at least one put-back slam over our front line coming out of freakin’ nowhere.  That’s hard to do.  Having him on the floor and healthy is certainly a boon to the Cards’ chances.  That said, give me Poythress any day.

Now, the good news:

Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky: Wiltjer was the forgotten man in Kentucky’s 2011 recruiting class, likely because he, as “only” a consensus top 25 recruit, was the black sheep of John Calipari’s freshmen. Wiltjer also doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the typical Coach Cal recruit. He’s a baby-faced power forward whose athleticism is rivaled by some of the writers covering the Wildcats and whose forte is his ability to shoot the ball. He’s the epitome of a face-up four playing for a team that produces physical freaks like John Wall, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. His value lies in the fact that he may end up being far and away the best shooter on that UK roster next season. Think about how much room there will be to penetrate if an opponent’s four cannot leave Wiltjer and the center has to try to find a way to keep Nerlens Noel from receiving a lob.

I’ll go on record as saying my athleticism does not rival Kyle Wiltjer’s.  But his improvement on defense through the course of last season is going to let him see the floor a lot during this next season.  We’re all familiar with his ability to score, especially from outside 15 feet.  Watching him trail on a break and set up on the wing for a three is a beautiful, beautiful thing.  And with so many good slashers and post players on the roster next year, Dauster is exactly right in thinking that Kyle’s sweet-shooting will open up lanes on lanes.

Kyle’s future is in his hands now.  We got solid minutes from him last year as a seventh-man, and he executed his role in a great way.  But now he’s looking at playing a much bigger part, on a much different team.  The result, as Sports Illustrated so noted, could be a phenomenal year for our favorite WBA sophomore.  Here’s to hoping Kyle gives us plenty of reasons to throw up 3-goggles this year.

Article written by Corey Nichols

15 Comments for Wiltjer, Blackshear among SI’s Potential 2012 “Breakout Players”



  1. kentuckyrules
    9:04 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    I think Wilt will get better this season, but IMO, his breakout will be his Junior year, not Sophomore. He’s not quite ready just yet, but will be a 3-pt force this season for sure.



  2. tltaworl
    9:05 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    Whatever happended to Louisville doesn’t exist? Every other post on here has a Louisville reference. And this one should be about Wiltjer only. Come on Corey, putting Blackshear before Wiltjer?!?!



  3. Bob Sugar
    9:17 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    Good to know Wayne Blackshear is going to have such a breakout season especially since he had two good games and you saw him have one put-back slam. It’s not like anybody has ever accomplished that before. As for Wiltjer, he will play a similar role this year as he did last year. He is at least another year behind physically. He is not strong enough to rebound and defend like Cal’s big men do. He is not fast enough to run the floor and defend like Cal’s big men do. Look for Wiltjer to score more points this year, of course, but don’t expect him to be the playmaker that leads us. Wiltjer is far from a Scott Padgett type player and even farther away from Larry Bird, so BBN please stop making those comparisons.



  4. Jim G.
    9:24 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    Why haven’t there been any stories about Rod Strickland getting arrested for driving with license revoked or whatever happened? Only cover the good stories?



  5. Juan4UK
    9:28 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    Looks like we had as many fans at Fan Day as Alabama did……… hmmmm not bad! http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/aug/06/saban-scolds-media-at-alabama-fan-day/?Sports-College08Football



  6. BigJohnLex
    9:34 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    Kyle defense is so much improved he will be a lottery pick this year nba draft express has him #13 right now great news.



  7. UofL
    9:46 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    References to UofL all over this blog this morning! Boom baby! The only thing holding me back is our Big East football affiliation and my battery powered beard trimmer. But, get off me, you cannot touch this!



  8. Head Bussa
    9:46 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    4 — There was last week. It was a non-story though as he was guilty of nothing. He wasn’t charged with any crime as he has a valid license in Kentucky. Sorry, troll.



  9. Head Bussa
    9:49 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    Kyle Wiltjer has a lot of work to do to even have a prayer to make it in the NBA. I think he’s a great kid, he just does nothing else well besides shooting. That’s good for Kentucky, but you would think he would need to add a little something to his game to survive in the NBA. Quite frankly, he is a liability on defense. I think he’s a great kid, though, and I’m rooting for him all the way.



  10. AaronJ
    9:51 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    4- It was covered and it wasn’t a story. His license wasn’t revoked, the court records showed that his license was reinstated a long time ago and was a clerical error. Very unfortunate for Rod, lot of unnecessary bad publicity that wasn’t warranted. Who gets pulled over for a turn signal anyways?



  11. Bruce Pearl
    9:55 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    I need a job.



  12. Hackrichards
    10:04 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    This will be Kyle Wiltzer’s team – if he wants it.



  13. Head Bussa
    10:09 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    12 — No, it won’t. Have you ever seen highlights of Goodwin, Poythress, and Harrow? It will be their team.



  14. AaronJ
    10:13 am August 6, 2012 Permalink

    12 – It wont be Wiltjer’s team but he will have to play a very strong role if we are to do anything this season. From what I can tell it may end up being Goodwins team, the guy appears to be a natural leader.



  15. the cat
    12:16 pm August 6, 2012 Permalink

    I love ksr and I’ve been with you all from the start but really why is it you talk about louisville so much? Corey honestly brother why mention blackshear and highlight his part in the article? This is Kentucky sports radio so unless they do something embarrassing they shouldn’t get a mention on this site. ksr has become too obsessed with the cards and that’s embarrassing in itself. We are the National Champions and they are the little brother, keep it that way