WCC Player Power Rankings: No. 2, Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga

Height: 6–10
Weight: 240 pounds
Class: Redshirt Senior
2014–15 stats: 38 games, 37 starts, 27.6 minutes, 16.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 25 blocks, 18 steals, 54% FG, 47% 3FG.

Wiltjer’s offensive prowess became one of the biggest stories of the 2014–15 season. How did this 6–10 forward, who’d been a consistent perimeter threat for Kentucky, develop such a formidable skill set, sweeping seamlessly between the low post and the perimeter?

Well, way back in the fall of 2012, in Sports Illustrated’s preview for the ‘12–13 college basketball season, it was revealed that Wiltjer, then entering his sophomore season for Kentucky (he would transfer following that season, and sit out ‘13–14 due to NCAA regulations) had in fact been quite the low-post threat at Jesuit High, in Portland. (Oregon, not Maine.)

As a freshman for the national title-winning Wildcats, there’d been the likes of Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the frontcourt. Wiltjer helped make that team elite by flexing his perimeter prowess. He made 71 field goals that season, 35 of which were threes. (He hit them at a 43% clip, too.)

Ever since Kelly Olynyk took a redshirt following his sophomore season at Gonzaga, transforming into an NBA lottery pick in the process, the year-long process has quickly taken on the stuff of legend. Wiltjer went through the paces, working with strength coach Travis Knight, and readying himself for the leading role he assumed last season.

At times, he was unstoppable. It’s a big reason he’s a popular pick for preseason national player of the year, this term.

Game of life, with a twist—and shout. Twitter: @alleywhoops

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