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Kyle Wiltjer’s Role Next Season for Kentucky Basketball: Fan Take
By any normal standard, Kentucky sharpshooter Kyle Wiltjer had a successful freshman season at Kentucky. He proved that he is a great shooter (43.2% from behind the arc) that hit many big shots for the Wildcats this season. He averaged almost 12 minutes and five points.
What about next year? Who will Wiltjer battle for playing time with the Wildcats?
Who will be back?
Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, and Doron Lamb are projected to be headed to the NBA. Many think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is gone as well. Marquis Teague might stick around but even he could go pro. Darius Miller has used up his eligibility. If they lose all six of those players, Wiltjer will be the top returning player. Jon Hood will also return.
Who is coming in?
So far we know that Coach Cal is bringing in Willie Cauley, Archie Goodwin, and Alex Poythress. Cauley is a seven foot big man who may not play much. Goodwin is a shooting guard and would replace Lamb (if he leaves). Poythress is a power forward who could help replace Jones (also, if he leaves). Three other great players are said to be strongly considering Kentucky. They are Anthony Bennett, Shabazz Muhammad and Nerlens Noel.
The most glaring area for Wiltjer to improve upon is his defense. He has to get stronger and will need to play more aggressive defensively if he wants to play. Calipari has shown that a defensive liability won't get on the floor much. Wiltjer needs to get better at anticipating the play, also. His defense improved a lot by the end of the season but he has a lot of work to do.
Wiltjer needs to put on some more muscle and learn how to use his body to get good position. He doesn't need to be the most athletic player on the floor. He needs to limit the times he gets backed into the paint next season. Other physical tools that he should work on is foot speed and overall lateral quickness.
Seventh man again?
The worst case scenario for Wiltjer is filling the seventh man role. He should get close to 20 minutes a game, though. Unless Coach Cal has a legitimate outside shooter coming in that we don't know about, Wiltjer will be the best shooter on the team. That might be their biggest weakness and would assure Wiltjer's place on the floor. He also has the advantage of having played one year in the Kentucky system.
Last season Darius Miller was one of the most important players on the team and he may get drafted in the first round. How many games did he start?
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