In the three classes John Calipari has brought to Kentucky a number of highly skilled players, who just needed some polishing and some mental work to become big time contributors.
Kyle Wiltjer is far was from a finished product, but has continuously improved at Kentucky. Cal recognizes his skill set, much of it hidden or suppressed. Calipari is a coach-'em-up guy that felt like he could bring out the star-power in the youngster.
There are many occasions he has made a special effort to stroke (warm fuzzy) Wiltjer. And when he reaches his full potential Cal has something to really stick his chest out about. You can see Wiltjer getting better and more confident every game.
Most of the other players Cal has brought in are far more of a finished product. Oh yeah, Cal has to develop them as a team but as individual talents he does some tweaking and fine tuning of them. Wiltjer represent something most coaches have to mold into the player that make coaches proud when they see them blossom.
The other products have come in with such high accolades and talent to match the coach can't boast of the premature new born because they come into the program as, metaphorically speaking, a eiight pound bouncing baby boy.
Cal has continuously said that as soon as Wiltjer gets stronger in the lower body, he will become a very good basketball. We all know that with strength comes confidence. Cal has said when he puts Wiltjer in the game, he is in there to shoot the ball, and especially from the three point stripe. Early on we could see a hesitance when he would shoot the ball and that's no way for a shooter to be effective. Now we see that confidence growing in the youngster.
We asked Witjer to expound upon that lagging in confidence and strength?
He said - "I just wanted to become a better player when I came here. Every player has weaknesses and one of mine is just working in the weight room. I am going to work really hard this off season trying to get better. When I go in there (the game) I'm just trying to be confident and do my thing, shoot the open shot and try not to force it. I consider mysel a good shooter and I just work on it everyday and just try to get better."
Cal said Kyle is understanding angles better, what does he mean by that?
The coach said, "Just being there on help side, trapping in the post, just knowing angles and be there for the charge, and using my length. Stuff like that."
There's no doubt that Wiltjer will be here next season and Cal will get a chance to make an NBA prospect out Wiltjer.
This is not the only opportunity Calipari has had to show his development skills. Josh Harrellson being the other. Harrellson was a ham-and-egg player before last year.
Harrellson may not have been in that position were it not for the collision of events. Calipari began last season expecting Jorts to play behind Enes Kanter. Jorts wasn't in shape, and when he tweeted his belief he was better and deserve a chance to show it Calipari's opportunity to improve Harrellson's conditioning emerged. The tweet ruffled Cal's cat fur. Cal said, OK, if you feel that way lets see if you can prove. Jorts paid the price by disciplinary running until he couldn't stand up.
Look what happened on the way to the ranch! Jorts got into great condition and suddenly Cal had a player on his hands. Jorts was key to Kentucky's Final Four run last season. Along the way Harrellson became a legitimate NBA prospect and started two games this season for the Knicks prior to being injured. Kanter Who!?
We know we are riding that Wiltjer development train and it might get a little redundant, but the scenery along the way is something to behold.