Chats with the Cats: Kyle Wiltjer

jtipton@herald-leader.comOctober 13, 2011 

SPORTS BKO-JORDANCLASSIC 1 CH

Kyle Wiltjer threw down a dunk during practice for the Jordan Brand Classic in Charlotte, N.C., last spring.

JEFF SINER — MCT

  • About Wiltjer: Wiltjer is a versatile power forward with an excellent outside shot who is comfortable playing down low on the post or out on the wing. Wiltjer, who played high school ball in Portland, Ore., and holds dual citizenship in Canada, shocked the recruiting world by committing to the Cats despite never setting foot on Kentucky's campus.

    Height, weight: 6-9, 239

    Position: Forward

    Class: Freshman

    Hometown: Portland, Ore.

    High school: Jesuit

  • This is the 15th and last in a series of question-and-answer sessions with each of the 15 UK men's basketball players. Chats with the Cats are edited excerpts from interviews conducted in August and September. More excerpts will be published in the Herald-Leader's college basketball preview section on Nov. 6.More excerpts will be published in the Herald-Leader's college basketball preview section on Nov. 6.

Question: You watch tapes of former NBA players. What players do you watch?

Answer: Michael Jordan, just because he's the greatest. I could honestly watch his highlights all day. He shows such great form. He's like the perfect basketball player. I like watching YouTube, just watching Larry Bird, Magic Johnson. ...

Q: What players do you mimic on the court?

A: I never really mimic one player. I just pick up moves from multiple players. I want to be the most versatile player I can be on the court. And the more things you can do, the tougher you are to guard. I'm just working on all parts of my game, right now.

Q: Your father, Greg Wiltjer, was a college and pro player. How long ago did you start playing him one-one-one?

A: Ever since I was little. He probably let me win a couple times. But it's been competitive ever since I was a kindergartner.

Q: Do you beat your father now?

A: Because I can just run around him. He's still really tough to guard in the paint. He's 7 feet, almost 300 pounds. He's a tough player to play against, and I'm fortunate to have him because he's taught me a lot of the skills I have today.

Q: Were you initially reluctant to shoot the hook shot because it's not current and cool?

A: I wasn't really reluctant because I'm open to anything. If someone wants to teach me something, I want to pick up on it (and) try to do my best. It's a very tough move to defend, so that's why I picked up on it. Ever since I was in second grade, my dad made me do drills I didn't think I wanted to do. Now, they're paying off.

Q: Did you have an epiphany where you realized the hook shot was an effective weapon?

A: I really don't know when I started picking up on it. Probably in pickup because I usually don't just try something in a game. I like to practice it first.

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