Wiltjer with Kentucky in 2012
|No. 18 – Rio Grande Valley Vipers|
|Position||Power forward / Center|
|League||NBA Development League|
October 20, 1992 |
|Nationality||Canadian / American|
|Listed height||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)|
|Listed weight||243 lb (110 kg)|
|High school||Jesuit (Beaverton, Oregon)|
|NBA draft||2016 / Undrafted|
|2016–present||→Rio Grande Valley Vipers|
|Career highlights and awards|
Kyle Wiltjer (born October 20, 1992) is a Canadian-American professional basketball player for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League, on assignment from the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He spent two seasons with the Kentucky Wildcats before deciding to transfer to Gonzaga in 2013. He holds dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship, and has committed himself to the Canadian national team.
High school career
College recruiting and career
Wiltjer was ranked as the No. 18 recruit in the class of 2011 in the ESPNU 100, the No. 25 recruit by Rivals.com, and the No. 22 recruit by Scout.com. He chose to play basketball for the University of Kentucky Wildcats and coach John Calipari on August 28, 2010. He had also considered Kansas, California, Texas, Gonzaga, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest.
Although he was a 5-star recruit according to all of the recruiting analysts, Kyle Wiltjer never started a game his freshman season at Kentucky, and did not play as many minutes as fellow freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Marquis Teague. He averaged only 11.3 MPG and 4.8 PPG, although his 3-point percentage was a noticeable 42.5%. The Kentucky Wildcats won the 2012 NCAA championship during Wiltjer's freshman year.
Wiltjer began the 2012–13 season as a starter. In his third game of the season, against Lafayette, he accumulated 23 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds. However, he would eventually settle in to an off-the-bench role, being named the SEC's Sixth Man of the Year.
In April 2013, he had announced he would remain at Kentucky for his junior season. However, he eventually changed his mind, posting a letter on Kentucky's official athletic website on June 23 indicating that he would transfer in order to "compete the way I know I can. ... wherever that may be." A later report indicated that Wiltjer had drawn interest from three of the four Division I programs in his home state of Oregon (Oregon, Oregon State, Portland), Gonzaga, Stanford, and Texas. According to that report, "he left the door open to return to Kentucky if he can't find the right situation." On July 19, multiple media outlets reported that Wiltjer had chosen Gonzaga. The transfer became official the next day, when Gonzaga received a signed copy of a financial aid agreement. After sitting out the 2013–14 season due to NCAA transfer rules, he had two remaining seasons of eligibility.
In February 2015 he scored a career-high 45 points against Pacific. Wiltjer led Gonzaga to its second ever Elite Eight appearance and a school record 35-3 record. He was named a Consensus Second-Team All-American, as well as First-Team All-WCC and WCC Newcomer of the Year. In his first season with Gonzaga he appeared in 38 games averaging 16.8 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game and 1.9 assists per game in 27.6 minutes per game. After contemplating forgoing his remaining eligibility to enter the 2015 NBA Draft, WIltjer decided to return to Gonzaga for his senior year.
Entering his second season with Gonzaga, Wiltjer was named CBS Sports' preseason player of the year. Sports Illustrated projected Wiltjer as the preseason player of the year, scoring champion, and the top-usage player in all of NCAA Division 1 basketball. He was named to the 35-man midseason watchlist for the Naismith Trophy on February 11.
Awards and honors
- 2011 McDonald's All-American team selection
- 2011 Jordan Brand Classic High School All-American team selection
- 2011 Nike Hoop Summit World team selection
- 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year - Oregon
- 2012 NCAA National Champion - Kentucky
- 2013 SEC Sixth Man of the Year
- 2015 WCC Newcomer of the year
- 2015 First-Team All-WCC
- 2015 USBWA Second-Team All-American
Houston Rockets (2016–present)
After going undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft, Wiltjer joined the Houston Rockets for the 2016 NBA Summer League. On September 23, 2016, he signed with the Rockets. On October 28, he made his professional debut in a 106–98 win over the Dallas Mavericks. During his rookie season, Wiltjer has had multiple assignments with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets' D-League affiliate.
In a 2016 interview with Pardon My Take, Wiltjer told hosts PFT Commenter and Barstool Big Cat that another Gonzaga alum, Adam Morrison is paranoid and has an apocalypse bunker that includes a large amount of guns and ammo. The story went viral, with national outlets such as The New York Daily News and Bleacher Report disseminating the claim. Morrison appeared on Pardon My Take and vehemently denied Wiltjer's account, though he acknowledged he is a gun collector. Wiltjer subsequently went undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft.
- List of NCAA Division I men's basketball players with 145 games played – the only individual on this list to have played at more than one school
- Graves, Gary (June 23, 2013). "Kentucky F Kyle Wiltjer says he is transferring". CollegeBasketball.ap.org. Associated Press. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
- "Kyle Wiltjer may transfer from UK". ESPN.com. June 25, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- Goodman, Jeff (July 19, 2013). "Sources: Kyle Wiltjer to Gonzaga". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
- Borzello, Jeff (July 19, 2013). "Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer headed to Gonzaga". CBSSports.com. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
- "Kyle Wiltjer Officially Joins Gonzaga Men's Basketball Team". GoZags.com (Press release). Gonzaga Athletics. July 20, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
- "Wiltjer's has career-high 45, No. 2 Gonzaga beats Pacific". USAToday.com. February 20, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
- "WCC Announces 2015 Men's Basketball All-Conference Team". WCCSports.com. March 3, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
- "Kyle Wiltjer player profile". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
- Vecenie, Sam (April 20, 2015). "Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer returning for senior season". CBSSports.com. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
- Parrish, Gary (October 6, 2015). "Gonzaga senior Kyle Wiltjer is CBS Sports' Preseason Player of Year". CBSSports.com. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
- Winn, Luke (October 13, 2015). "Player of the Year projections: Wiltjer, Simmons a cut above competition". SI.com. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- Payne, Terrence (February 11, 2016). "Naismith Trophy midseason list announced". FoxSports.com. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
- "USBWA names 2014-15 All-Americans". SportsWriters.net. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
- "Rockets to Compete in Samsung NBA Summer League 2016". NBA.com. July 1, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
- "Rockets Announce Training Camp Roster". NBA.com. September 23, 2016. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
- "Rockets vs. Mavericks - Box Score". ESPN.com. October 28, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
- "2016-17 NBA Assignments". NBA.com. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
- Cat, Big (March 25, 2016). "Pardon My Take 3-25 With Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer". BarStoolSports.com. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
- Cat, Big (April 6, 2016). "Pardon My Take 4-6 With Special Guest Adam Morrison". BarStoolSports.com. Retrieved April 6, 2016.