Canada’s Wilt­jer shines for Rap­tors on same stage his dad once starred

Medicine Hat News - - SPORTS -

VIC­TO­RIA The Toronto Rap­tors' in­trasquad game Thurs­day night was a vir­tual his­tory les­son for Cana­dian Kyle Wilt­jer.

Held on the same Univer­sity of Vic­to­ria cam­pus where his dad Greg once starred, Wilt­jer posed for pho­tos with UVIC's leg­endary coach Ken Shields, who guided his fa­ther. UVIC staff show­ing him trad­ing cards and team pho­tos that fea­tured his dad.

“It's like com­ing full cir­cle,” Wilt­jer said. “I was on the phone with my dad and he said it was like deja vu see­ing me here (at UVIC). Most im­por­tantly, my grandpa ( John, who lives just north in Vic­to­ria in Dun­can) got to watch me play. He hasn't seen me play in a long time.

“It's fun, es­pe­cially be­ing for the Toronto Rap­tors, other side of the coun­try, it's cool to get over here and see the fans, be­cause they're su­per pas­sion­ate.”

The six-foot-10, 24-year-old three-point spe­cial­ist is bat­tling for a job with the Rap­tors, and padded his job ap­pli­ca­tion Thurs­day night by drain­ing five threes in a 17point per­for­mance.

With the league's con­tin­u­ing evo­lu­tion into a lon­grange shoot­ing league, and af­ter the Rap­tors were badly out­shot by Cleve­land in last sea­son's play­offs, Toronto is look­ing to beef up its three­p­oint pro­duc­tion. And so Wilt­jer and fel­low Cana­dian Andy Rautins, also a lights-out shooter, earned train­ing camp in­vites. Rautins had four threes on Thurs­day night in front of a jam-packed crowd of 2,700 fans.

Coach Dwane Casey laughed when a re­porter noted the two shoot­ers were Cana­dian.

“I don't know what coun­try they're from, I don't care if they're from the moon,” Casey said. “Kyle shot the ball very well, Andy shot the ball very well. They ex­e­cuted our shot spec­trum, our ball move­ment was good.”

Wilt­jer ac­tu­ally grew up in Port­land and has dual cit­i­zen­ship, but the fam­ily made reg­u­lar trips up the coast to Van­cou­ver Is­land to visit his grand­par­ents.

Greg Wilt­jer played with Rautins' dad Leo on Canada's na­tional team. Kyle Wilt­jer jok­ingly tweeted on Rap­tors' me­dia day: “I bet good money Andy and I would out­shoot you and my dad @LeoRautins #snipers.”

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