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By LARRY VAUGHT
Greg Wiltjer said his familyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s overall visit to Kentucky in mid-October Ã¢â‚¬Å“far exceededÃ¢â‚¬Â his expectations even though he had done Ã¢â‚¬Å“his researchÃ¢â‚¬Â on Kentucky.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was so impressed with the facilities, the campus and the city of Lexington,Ã¢â‚¬Â Greg Wiltjer, the father of UK signee Kyle Wiltjer of Portland, Ore., said.Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“And the fans were off the chart. I have played in countries where fans were fanatical, but nothing like Kentucky. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really a fun environment and one I am sure players just love.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He said he also was anxious to see how Calipari reacted with UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s other signees Ã¢â‚¬â€ Marquis Teague, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist Ã¢â‚¬â€ as well as how he interacted with their families during the Big Blue Madness weekend.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When Kyle first started talking about Kentucky, my first reaction is that Kentucky is a major powerhouse and players must be competing with each other. Kyle played against UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s other signees on the AAU circuit and everyone talks about TeagueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s skills, GilchristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s terrific talent and how good Davis is. But what impressed me is that they are all excited to be part of something special,Ã¢â‚¬Â Greg Wiltjer said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As talented as they are, they want to succeed individually but they are looking at the big picture. Kyle said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœIf we all succeed and do our part to get to a Final Four, we will all look better and be better for it.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Kyle could have stayed closer to home and been more of a go-to guy for a team, but he wanted to be part of the best team and around coaches that could help get him to the NBA.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sometimes you do not know what you are getting with different personalities. I do not know any of these kids super well, but these kids are real people. I am sure they have all had people talking in their ears telling them they are great players and you are a future pro. But they want to have a good time in college and know they have a chance to go far in the tournament at Kentucky.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He said UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s other signees were all Ã¢â‚¬Å“good students with good familiesÃ¢â‚¬Â that talked about the importance of going to school.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Kentucky has tutors for every class, mandatory study time and gives you all the tools to be successful academically. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stuff nobody talks about very often,Ã¢â‚¬Â Greg Wiltjer said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are times you will be tired in the morning but you have to suck it up and put in your time in class. I met the school president and he talked about Kyle being strong in math and science. I liked that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Greg Wiltjer also liked that UK fans seem to understand how well his sonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s skills can fit in with UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s other signees.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“People that understand how he plays realize he is really an important piece for Kentucky,Ã¢â‚¬Â Greg Wiltjer said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They have athletic kids who can penetrate, but where they faltered last year was not hitting outside jumpers. I think this class is a better shooting class.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That is what I have loved about my son. When Kyle has got his foot in the door, he has shined and done well. He has an old school game. He is not pigeon-holed into doing just one thing. But he is a 6-9 man that can stroke it (his shot) and spread the defense to create matchup nightmares.Ã¢â‚¬Â