Julius Mays, Kyle Wiltjer

Kyle Wiltjer’s headed to Gonzaga, but the Olynyk comparisons are far-fetched

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When Kyle Wiltjer initially announced his decision to look into transferring, many expected the Portland native to end up at Gonzaga. On Friday the news became official, as it was reported by multiple outlets that Wiltjer will be a Bulldog.

In two seasons at Kentucky Wiltjer averaged 7.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest. As a freshman he was a member of a team that won the program’s eighth national title but he played an average of just 11.3 minutes per game, with the combination of the talent ahead of him and issues on the defensive end of the floor contributing to the “low” number of minutes.

Wiltjer saw more than two times the minutes in 2012-13 on a team that lacked the depth John Calipari enjoyed during that national title run. A good perimeter shooter, Wiltjer shot 38.6% from beyond the arc as a Wildcat.

In confirming the news via his Twitter account, Wiltjer left the following message for the Wildcat faithful:

Dear BBN, this past month has been very emotional and challenging for me. Whether to transfer or not has been one of the toughest decisions of my life, so I would like to thank everyone for being so supportive through this process. I feel like in my basketball career I’m facing a make it or break it moment and the primary factor in this decision is transforming my body. I’m choosing to transfer to Gonzaga because i feel they have a proven plan in place to help develop players similar to me, which has seen great results. I believe with hard work I can maximize my development at Gonzaga. The last two years at UK have been a valuable experience and I’m very grateful for them. Even though I’m leaving the program, Coach Cal and I will continue our relationship and I will look to him for advice. He is more than just a coach to me. I have made many friends here and I plan to come back. My heart will always be in Lex.

Per NCAA transfer rules Wiltjer will have to sit out the 2013-14 season, and some have used this as an opportunity to make the direct correlation between Wiltjer and Kelly Olynyk. Olynyk took a redshirt year in 2011-12, working on his body and his game, and the end result was WCC Player of the Year and All-America honors.

To make the direct comparison would be a reach, especially when considering Olynyk’s ability in the post. Olynyk finished the 2012-13 season with an offensive rating of 123.3 per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, which ranked 31st nationally, and he made 66% of his two-point shots.

While Wiltjer was an effective offensive player (rating of 112.0), he made just 48.4% of his two-point shots and more than half of his field goal attempts were three-pointers (150 three-point attempts, 128 two-point attempts). So while the two players may be separated by just a pound on their official bios (Olynyk weighed in at 238, Wiltjer at 239) there’s a lot more separating these two when it comes down to their respective strengths.

Can Wiltjer improve as a post player and a defender during his redshirt campaign? Sure he can, but to attempt to put him on the same path as Olynyk at this point in time isn’t a good idea.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Syracuse wins Atlantis, Miami gets upset

Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
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(This will be updated throughout the day.)

GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 74, No. 25 Texas A&M 67

The Orange got 20 points from Michael Gbinije and 15 points and five assists from Trevor Cooney as they won the Battle 4 Atlantis title on Friday afternoon. We wrote on this game earlier. Are the Orange for real this year?


No. 10 Gonzaga 73, No. 17 UConn 70: Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis made some big plays down the stretch as the Bulldogs held on to win a game they led by as much as 21 in the second half. Kyle Wiltjer scored a team-best 17 points for Gonzaga, which finished third at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Rob Dauster wrote more about the Bulldogs and their second-half performance here.

Alabama 64, No. 20 Wichita State 60: Not only did the Shockers drop their second straight at the AdvoCare Invitational, but they also saw Anton Grady leave the game on a stretcher after being involved in a scary second-half collision. He was awake and alert shortly after leaving the court. While the Shockers’ losses to USC and Alabama don’t help them from an NCAA tournament standpoint, the bigger issue is the team’s health.


Quincy Ford, Northeastern: Not only did he score 24 points in the upset win over No. 15 Miami, but he hit the game-winning jumper, too. Video here.


Wichita State’s bigs: Five of them (Anton Grady, Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly, Bush Wakumota, Eric Hamilton) finished a combined 3-for-21 from the floor with 14 points and 14 fouls. Wakumota shot one of the worst threes you’ll ever see with Wichita State down 62-60 with 10 seconds left.

Grady suffered a scary neck injury late in the game, but early reports sound positive.


  • Jamal Murray went for 21 points and three assists without a turnover at No. 1 Kentucky rolled over South Florida. The big question: How bad is Tyler Ulis’ elbow injury?
  • Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart both had 13 points as No. 8 Villanova knocked off Georgia Tech to win the Preseason NIT, 69-52.
  • No. 23 Xavier raced out of the gates against USC and led by as much as 32, going on to win 87-77 in Orlando. Trevon Bluiett led four Musketeers in double figures with 16 points and James Farr added 12 to go along with nine rebounds off the bench.


  • Stanford finished third at the Preseason NIT with a 69-66 win over Arkansas, closing the game on a stunning 21-1 run. Rosco Allen scored eight of his career-high 25 points during that run, and Marcus Allen’s goal-tended layup with 2.6 seconds remaining gave the Cardinal the lead for good.

Good luck Goodluck: UNLV’s Okonoboh to transfer

Goodluck Okonoboh
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UNLV sophomore Goodluck Okonoboh is transferring out of the program, a source told NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-10 center was the No. 31 recruit in the Class of 2014, but he never was able to find a place in the UNLV rotation. He averaged 2.9 blocks as a freshman, but is a career 34 percent free throw shooter that never proved he could be more than just an athlete.

With Ben Carter getting eligible and UNLV landing Stephen Zimmerman this season, Okonoboh’s minutes dried up. He played just 19 minutes total against UCLA and Indiana.