Kyle Wiltjer Adds to Zags’ Optimism

November 18, 2014
SPOKANE, Washington – Sparked by arguably the most talented roster ever, hopes for the 2014-15 edition of Gonzaga men’s basketball are burning hotter than usual. Among the Zags creating the most optimism is Kyle Wiltjer, a 6-foot-10-inch junior forward who redshirted last year after transferring from Kentucky where he was the Southeast Conference’s Sixth Man of the Year.

Wiltjer, who graduated from Jesuit High School in Portland, where he had a dominant career and was ranked the 18th-best college prospect by ESPN, has clearly found a home among the No. 13-ranked Zags. After spending his redshirt year (2013-14) working with Gonzaga strength and conditioning Coach Travis Knight, Wiltjer has gained muscle, improved his mobility, and increased his vertical leap.

While changing schools is never easy, Wiltjer says Gonzaga has welcomed him with open arms and the transition has been smooth.

Wiltjer and the Zags have plenty to be positive about this season. The Bulldogs, who made a 16th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and have won 13 of the last 14 regular season West Coast Conference titles, are the unanimous choice of WCC coaches to win this season’s league title. In addition, senior guard Kevin Pangos and junior center Przemek Karnowski were named Preseason All-WCC.

Now a starter for the Bulldogs, Wiltjer has averaged 11.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in the (3-0) Zags’ first three games – all in the McCarthey Athletic Center – against Sacramento State, Southern Methodist, and St. Joseph’s (a 94-42 runaway in which he played only 15 minutes) and said the team is not getting caught up in the expectations.

“We’re just going to work hard every day and try to get better,” he said.