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