Fans used to have to wait until Midnight Madness to determine who was on the roster. Before the Internet, it was nearly impossible to find information about recruits and players. Now, we are connected to every aspect and recruiting isn’t enough. Onlookers watch every scrimmage, practice, and pick-up game looking for that edge to help predict what the season ahead will look like.
With that, every year it seems Kentucky fans find a player or two that they expect to become next year’s surprise. Jarrod Carter, Matt Pilgram, Twany Beckham, and dozens more have graced the summer internet fodder started by blogs and message boards across the fansphere, each expected to have a breakout campaign come Fall.
This year, a player Kentucky may have taken for granted a little last year has made his way onto a slightly more prestigous list of the same nature.
Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer was listed this morning as one of ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan’s Potential Top 10 Breakout Players for 2012-2013 basketball season. High praise for guy who played 11 minutes a game and averaged 5 points, but nothing he’s not capable of doing or becoming and something he must have happen if Kentucky looks to repeat their national championship.
Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky: I’m not sure it’s possible, in 2012, to be a Kentucky Wildcat and also be under the radar. But if it is possible, Wiltjer fits the bill. The lanky forward was the seventh man in UK’s championship rotation last season, and he made timely contributions throughout the season. But as the Cats marched to the national title, and Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and super-sub Darius Miller and the rest of the top six garnered 100 percent of the attention, Wiltjer largely became an afterthought. Don’t make the same mistake in 2012-13. Kentucky will be loaded again, no doubt, but Wiltjer — a former top-20 prospect in the Class of 2011, lest we forget — will play starter’s minutes, and should emerge as much more than a stretch forward with a sweet jump shot. If he combines a low-post game with that spot shooting, Wiltjer could morph into one of the nation’s most complete scoring threats — a Doug McDermottlookalike with national title talent at his side.