Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

After plenty of wins in college, Wiltjer hopes the NBA comes calling

June 21, 2016 Columns No Comments

Gonzaga has two players who figure into the NBA Draft coming up in less than a week. One is sure to be drafted in the first round and has a pedigree, while the other has been on the radar quite a bit in college but may not be drafted.

Unlike Domantas Sabonis, Kyle Wiltjer has no pedigree, but has plenty to offer a team that takes a chance on him.

To be clear, Sabonis has more going for him than merely being the son of Russian great Arvydas Sabonis. He has a great motor, great size and rebounds very well. He doesn’t have the look of a future perennial all-star, but he looks like a valuable piece for a winning team. It’s not hard to envision him one day being the heart and soul of a team the way he was at Gonzaga this year.

Wiltjer, on the other hand, is a very different player, though like Sabonis his size can help him. Wiltjer is a 6’10” forward who is better facing up than posting up, one who can hit from long range reliably. While he doesn’t have Sabonis’ pedigree, he does have something Sabonis doesn’t, which is a national championship ring as he began his career at Kentucky. Originally part of a much-heralded recruiting class, he was basically a bit player on the Wildcats’ 2012 national championship team before having a larger role a year later, a season where the Wildcats were very much up and down.

After two seasons, he transferred to Gonzaga and became a featured player – as well as a star. He shot over 46 percent from long range as a junior and 54 percent overall on a team that featured a deep and experienced backcourt. While he naturally had an even bigger role this past season, it’s clear that he benefited from having the guards on his team a year earlier as he didn’t shoot quite as well from long range as a senior. His 43.7 percent figure, though, is still nothing to take lightly, nor is the fact that Wiltjer’s teams won a lot of games in his career. The Bulldogs reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament in 2016 before losing to eventual Final Four team Syracuse.

There’s not much doubt about what Wiltjer could do as a pro. He’s a complementary player, not a guy a team will count on to be the go-to guy. He’s a four man who can shoot, and that’s what he does; there’s a certain role he would fill and that’s clear. In that context, he could help a team playing off others, something he demonstrated nicely over his career. He can be a stretch-four, hitting shots that pull post players away from the basket and finding teammates when he’s not open, though he’s a good but hardly world-class passer. With even more talented teammates around him, you could imagine his passing numbers looking better.

A player like Wiltjer would not be a first round pick. Most likely, if he is drafted at all, it will be in the second round by a team that sees value in a stretch four from winning programs. Wiltjer is not a great rebounder or shot-blocker for his size, so a team may have to try and hide him a bit at the defensive end. What role he would serve should he make a roster is clear.

Should Wiltjer not get drafted, he will almost certainly get an invite to a summer league roster. Ultimately, it’s not hard to imagine him going overseas and making a lot of money should the NBA not pan out right away. Plenty of players similar to him have done that. His intangibles help, as he’s been part of winning teams and is largely regarded as a solid character guy. From that standpoint, he carries little risk.

The second round is always interesting with the selections that come about. Some are completely unexpected, while others look like great potential value plays and others are teams opting to take a flyer on someone who would be a big risk if drafted in the first round. Wiltjer could be one of those players on Thursday night, following his teammate who will go much earlier and possibly even in the lottery.

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2017

February 22, 2017 by

We touch on Player of the Year candidates, the wild ACC featuring a still-slumping Virginia team and a really hard-luck Clemson team, an SEC program where the bottom is falling out, the final weekend in the CAA and much more.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 17, 2017

February 17, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we start with coaching news in the ACC, then go to a few recent games. A surging Big East team and an amazing rally in the Big 12 lead the discussion after that.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 8, 2017

February 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we look at a marathon game from Tuesday night, which came just days after a wild Saturday. Then we have more on the SEC and Big 12, before one of Saturday’s big games leads us into talk about smaller conferences and television coverage.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 3, 2017

February 3, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we look at the week two national title contenders had, as well as a surprise at the top of the Big Ten and a legendary coach returning. Along the way, we also look at a couple of bigger picture items.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we look at a wild week in college basketball that was highlighted by Tuesday night. We also talk about who will likely be the top team in the polls and look ahead to the weekend, which features one last flurry of non-conference games.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.