When the Kentucky Wildcats take the floor to tip off the 2011-12 season, Calipari’s squad will be an odds-on favorite to make a serious run at the final four, and the reasoning is sound. Coach John Calipari is bringing in yet another number one-ranked recruiting class and this time the former Memphis coach will not be expected to solely rely on its youngest players to carry the biggest loads.
Between Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller, the Cats bring back their best long-range shooters and their best rebounder. The three each logged more than 30-minutes per game and combined for nearly 40 points on a final four team. Add super-frosh Marquis Teague (#1 PG), Michael Gilchrist (#1 SF) and Anthony Davis (#1 PF) to the mix and there are perhaps only two or three teams in the nation that might have as much potential for winning a national championship.
With all the focus on the players mentioned above however, one player who may be getting lost is Kyle Wiltjer, the 6-foot-9 2011 Gatorade High School Player in Oregon. The Wildcats are so stacked with talent, that early publications are often mentioning the Pacific Northwest product as an afterthought.
Most 5-star athletes in Wiltjer's siuation would shy away from teams with as much talent as Kentucky. After all, there are literally dozens of high-profile Division I teams that would view Wiltjer as the jewel of their recruiting class. In his case, however, his talented teammates played into his decision to join the Cats, “I want to surround myself with the best players so I can push myself in practice,” Wiltjer said, “Coach Cal pushes his players.”
One national recruiting analyst with ties to the Pacific Northwest has seen Wiltjer play on several occasions and believes the Cats were an obvious choice, “Kyle is a terrific prospect,” he said. “He’s going to be one of those players who will come in, work hard, develop and do whatever is asked of him to help his team. I hated to see him leave the west coast but Kentucky is going to be a good fit.”
He added, “People who view him as an afterthought because of Teague, Gilchrist and Davis are going to be surprised. This is a player with great size who won the Powerade Jam Fest three-point shooting contest. Kyle is not going to get 30 minutes a game as a freshman, but he’s solid and effective. Calipari will see that when he’s on the floor. As the season goes on, my guess is you’ll see Wiltjer on the floor more and more.”