SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Gonzaga senior Kyle Wiltjer was named to the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award watch list released Tuesday by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I’m grateful and honored to be recognized by the Basketball Hall of Fame and these 20 candidates should be as well,” said Karl Malone, a 2010 inductee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in a statement released by the organization. “Three finalists from last season [Perry Ellis, Georges Niang and Wiltjer] are returning to the watch list and I look forward to seeing how they have improved their games in the off season.”
Wiltjer returns for his senior season after following up his redshirt year with a breakout performance for the 35-3 Zags, who finished with an Elite Eight appearance. He led the team with 16.8 points per game and shot a team-best .466 from behind the arc while making 68 three-pointers.
The Portland, Ore., native led the team in scoring 18 times and had a team-best 30 games with double-digit points, including 11 with more than 20. His highest-scoring game of the season came at Pacific on Feb. 19, when he poured in 45 points, the third-highest single-game total ever at Gonzaga.
Last season, Wiltjer became the seventh Zag to earn the WCC Newcomer of the Year Award and was named a USBWA and NABC Second Team All-American, AP Third-Team All-American, First Team All-WCC selection and WCC Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
He helped guide the Zags to a school-record 35 wins, second-ever berth in the Elite Eight and school-record 22-game win streak during the season. The Zags also captured their third straight WCC regular season and tournament titles, while advancing to a 17th consecutive NCAA Tournament, the fourth-longest active streak in the nation.
The season officially gets underway with an exhibition against Eastern Oregon at home on Nov. 7, followed by the regular-season opener in Okinawa, Japan, against Pittsburgh in the Armed Forces Classic on Nov. 13.