Subscribe for 33¢ / day
Wideman

Lake Central grad Tyler Wideman recently signed a two-year contract to play for KK Cedevita Zagreb in Croatia.

Other than Glenn Robinson III at his annual youth basketball camp Saturday, many in the audience couldn't take their eyes off Tyler Wideman.

Of all the staffers who were assisting Robinson, the 6-foot-8, 240-pounder looked the most like an imposing NBA star as he worked with the excited campers at Lake Central.

Wideman played there once, alongside Robinson, who recently signed with the Detroit Pistons after three seasons with the Pacers.

They've been tight for years and remain very community-minded, giving back regardless of where their paths take them.

"I think it comes from (Coach) Dave (Milausnic) at Lake Central and the staff I had at Butler," Wideman said. "They're no-nonsense and do a good job picking guys for the team who are going to do the right thing on and off the court."

Wideman's name wasn't called at the 2018 NBA draft. He averaged a career-high 9.3 points and grabbed 5.1 rebounds per game last season, decent numbers but nothing to shout from the rooftops.

He had a pre-draft workout with the Pacers, but wasn't mentioned in mock drafts because teams didn't consider him a power forward or wing player.

Just a big guy who worked well in the paint at Butler.

That was Wideman, who attacked the basket as if there were $100 bills taped to the rim.

He set a school record in 2017-18 by shooting .672, best in the Big East, with most of his field goals coming inside.

I asked him the highlight of his Butler career, and should've known better.

"Graduating," he said of his degree in Middle and Secondary Education. "(Basketball) is secondary. Yeah, it is. That degree is forever."

Wideman was a freshman during Robinson's junior year of high school and while "Big Cat" was never a star, he's been a winner wherever he played.

In Wideman's four years at Lake Central, the Indians went 71-24.

In his four seasons at Butler, the Bulldogs were 91-44 as Wideman set school records for single-season and career field goal percentage. He ranks fifth in school history in blocked shots.

Wideman and classmate Kelan Martin are the only Butler players to win an NCAA tournament game in each of their four seasons.

"I'm pretty much going to do whatever my team needs me to do," Wideman said. "In high school, that was score a little bit more. In college, it was just make guys around me a little bit better. Defend, rebound, score when asked."

Fret not for Tyler Wideman. He won't be sitting home the next few months, sad-faced and wondering what might have been.

Wideman leaves Sunday after signing a two-year contract to play for KK Cedevita Zagreb in Croatia, a country he admits knowing nothing about like its more than 4,000,000 population; the 22,000 square miles which the Croatian Crescent encompasses; or the 26 rivers that flow through it.

Thank heaven for Yahoo and Google.

The team's website already has him listed as its starting center for the 2018-19 season.

"I'm excited about it. At the end of the day, it's still basketball," Wideman said.

Helping cure any homesickness he may have will be three teammates from the States — University of California's Justin Cobbs, Northwest Florida State's Elgin Cook and Josh Mayette of Alabama-Huntsville.

All have limited NBA experience.

Zagreb plays a 33-game schedule and its regular season runs from September through December.

"Whatever it is in life, you have to constantly try to get better or you're going to slide backward," Wideman said of working nonstop on his game.

Take his foul shooting at Butler last season, which improved to .820, compared to .415 as a freshman.

Wish I had the Croatian Sports Channel with my cable package. This could be fun to watch.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

2
1
6
0
0