To start the year, many considered Tai Wynyard to be an afterthought on this team to produce any real minutes. After starting out the year coming in with the group of walk-ons, those expectations seemed to remain true.
As of late, however, Wynyard has been getting some playing time for the Wildcats, and making the most of his opportunities as a valuable power guy off the bench.
Against Mississippi State, Wynyard managed just one point and one rebound in five minutes of action, but felt encouraged by his play.
“I just took my opportunity and did the best I could with it,” Wynyard said. “It was a lot of fun to be able to play because I haven’t been playing much this season. It was good to get out there and have a little bit of playing time. It was a lot of fun.”
As far as individual progress, the 6-11 center out of New Zealand feels that competitive play in practice has allowed his game to grow.
Wynyard said, “My game has taken a huge leap. I’ve been playing a lot better since I’ve been here, obviously, playing against players like Bam (Adebayo) and Isaac (Humphries). Going up against players like that in practice every day has given me strength.”
Bam Adebayo has been a big part of building Wynyard’s strength in practice, as he has been his main sparring partner down low. According to Tai, the match-ups are exciting to watch in practice.
“If you came and watched it gets crazy. It gets heated in there a little bit. We’re going at each other and fighting each other, so it’s a lot of fun. Me and Bam just going at it, you should see it. Just being able to play defense against him all the time and him playing defense against me. Both of us are getting so much better just by having that physicality.”
If he continues to impress coaches in practice and find success in his limited opportunities in the games, Wynyard believes he will be able to push for minutes as Adebayo’s backup.
“It gives me a bit of confidence. I’ve just got to fight for that spot and show what I can do in practice. I just want to make the most of every opportunity that I get.”
Wynyard hasn’t been a world-beater this season, but he’s certainly shown flashes of potential to excite fans going forward.