Ex-Cats

Kyle Wiltjer tries to show Pistons he can be their stretch-4

Kyle Wiltjer worked out for the Detroit Pistons on Monday. He was scheduled to visiting the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
Kyle Wiltjer worked out for the Detroit Pistons on Monday. He was scheduled to visiting the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday. Detroit Pistons

Kyle Wiltjer is a power forward who can shoot, and that’s what the Detroit Pistons are looking for either in Thursday’s NBA Draft or free agency.

The 6-foot-10 draft prospect out of Gonzaga worked out for the Pistons on Monday — his 14th workout overall — and has just one left, Tuesday in Philadelphia.

“It was another really competitive one,” Wiltjer said. “All of them have the same theme: You go in there, get some skill work in, but at the end of the day, you just have to go in there and compete. Show the staff and the managers of the team what you can do.

“It has been quite a grind, but it has been a lot of fun. I can’t stress enough how thankful I am for these clubs for bringing me in. I’m living out my dream, and it has been a blast.”

After transferring from Kentucky after his sophomore season, Wiltjer, a Portland native, had two productive seasons at Gonzaga and now believes that he’s ready to contribute in the league NBA.

This past season, he averaged 20.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. And he can shoot the three (43.7 percent this season and 44.9 percent for his career).

As a junior, he lit Pacific up for 45 points.

He’s ranked the No. 75 draft prospect by Draftexpress.com. The Pistons have two picks on Thursday: No. 18 and No. 49.

“Every team, I try to have the same mentality,” he said of his workouts. “It only takes one team to impress to draft you, so at the end of the day, if you aren’t playing with desperation, I don’t know what you’re doing. There’s a lot of money on the line, and we’re doing what we love, so you have to play with this desperation that you’re trying to make it. It’s a tough league and, to get into it, you have to show them what you do well.

“They’ve seen all the film on you, they know your game inside and out, so for myself, it’s just coming in here and playing as hard as I can for an hour or an hour and a half.”

What does he do well?

“I feel like I’m one of the best shooters in the draft,” he said. “I think I’ve shown that at all my workouts. I score the ball and I’m unselfish. Because I can score the ball, I can stretch the floor. I think that’s my No. 1 strength.”

He envisioned himself being able to stretch the floor for the Pistons with an Andre Drummond on the court. That would benefit both players, in his mind.

“I can open the floor for him to get some lobs,” Wiltjer said. “I think he’ll open it up for me, as well. Throwing it into him, and I can space the floor. People are going to have to pay attention to him because he’s going to dunk it.”

Wiltjer said nearly all of his workouts have been good, as far as shooting the ball. But he also realizes that if his shot isn’t falling, he has to impress organizations in different ways.

“I’ve had a good rhythm and have been shooting the ball really well, but you can’t play perfect every day,” he said. “As long as you’re competing and showing them that, if you’re not making a shot, you can do other things. I try to play good defense. I’m 6-10, so I can disrupt things down low (and) get a rebound.”

Also working out for the Pistons on Monday were: Ivica Zubac, a 7-1 center from Croatia; Nikola Jovanovic, a 6-11 center from Southern California; Stefan Jankovic, a 6-11 center from Hawaii; Elgin Cook, a 6-6 guard/forward from Oregon and Brannen Greene, a 6-7 guard from Kansas.

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