Feb 13, 2010; Birmingham, AL, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd forward Tyler Wilkerson (32) brings the ball down the court as Alabama Birmingham Blazers guard Eiljah Milsap (24) defends at Bartow Arena.The Thundering Herd defeated the Blazers 81-74. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE
(Editor’s note: As promised, MF Iksan will be taking a closer look at the Spurs’ Summer League team. Today, it’s Tyler Wilkerson.)
Wilkerson has been consistently subject to an array of question marks. Too short? Check. Hails from a mid-major college? Check. A difficult road to the NBA? Check. Doesn’t have a discernible skill? Check.
Such is the life for Wilkerson, a classic-we’ve-heard-this-story-before big man that’s still struggling to reach the NBA. He starred at Laffayette HS where he averaged 19 points and 12.4 rebounds. For his efforts Wilkerson was named the Lexington Herald-Leader first-team All City.
He expectedly produced pedestrian numbers in his freshman year. After two years of seasoning, Wilkerson fully acclimated himself to the collegiate level, averaging 10.7 points and 6.2 rebounds before his junior season was cut short by a fractured jaw. The confidence he gleamed from a successful season, albeit abbreviated, led to his most impressive year to date — he averaged 14 points and 7.2 rebounds, good enough to total a 24.9 PER.
Wilkerson went undrafted in the 2010 NBA draft, and his erratic journey to the NBA began. He was fortunate enough to be invited to the Spurs’ Summer League team and, while he exceeded expectations (with averages of 11.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 53.5% shooting), he was relegated to other options. The NBA would have to wait for awhile.
After watching Wilkerson in Vegas, what stands out to me is his intensity and rebounding proficiency. He’s also shown the ability to hit the mid-range jumper consistently which bodes well for his future progression.
While it’s unlikely the Spurs sign him; I’ve heard a lot of rumors that NBA executives like his play and maybe he’ll get a chance to make the roster on another team. Perhaps his quirky route to the NBA may have paid off.