From the moment K.C. Wiser stepped onto the hardwood of Ted Wilson Gym as a freshman in 2007, his impact was impossible to ignore.
The 2007-08 squad was captained by veterans Brian Murphy and Steve Taylor, but Wiser provided the ‘Cats a skilled big man in the middle. Athletic enough to back down bigger players close to the basket, Wiser made it clear early in his career that he had the ability to step out and knock down outside shots.
On his way to second team all-NWC honors and a selection as the West Region Freshman of the Year, Wiser led the club by averaging 14.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. While the forward from Tigard, Ore., came into the collegiate game as a polished player, it is clear to Wiser that there have been improvements in his game both on and off the floor over his four seasons.
“I would probably say my physical strength and getting in the weight room,” notes Wiser, describing the evolution of his game since coming to Linfield. “When I got here, we would lift weights once a week but the last couple of years we’ve been lifting two or three times a week and throughout the offseason.”
Along with adding physical strength to his repertoire, Wiser’s shooting skills have continued to develop.
“(Shooting) is something you can always work on because all you need is a ball and a hoop,” notes Wiser on his opportunity to grow as a perimeter threat.
Teammates such as Ryan Lobdell have seen Wiser’s improvements translate into leadership qualities.
“Because of his hard work and improvements, he has become one of the best players in the conference and has a great chance to win conference MVP this year,” notes Lobdell “He's has also become a better or more vocal leader this year. He has always been looked to as one of the best players on the team, but he is a more effective and assertive leader this year.”
After nabbing second team all-NWC honors as a sophomore during the 2008-09 season, Wiser elevated his game to first team all-conference status as a junior. He averaged 17.1 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game. Paired with all-conference guard Cody Tesoro, Wiser fueled the Wildcats’ run to a 10-6 NWC record.
With the departure of Tesoro, Wiser has been a one-man show in 2010-11. The senior is tallying a conference-best 23.3 points and his 7.9 rebounds per game rank third in the NWC. He also leads the club in field goal percentage, steals and blocked shots.
Even with other teams keying on him, Wiser is expected to carry his team every night.
“It’s not something I think about,” says Wiser of the pressure to lead his team. “I go into games focusing on game plans and what I need to do on the defensive end against a certain player. The offensive end is not a major focus because when I start thinking about it, I stress too much.”
With his team boasting an 8-13 record, Wiser led a group of veterans who come to compete on a nightly basis.
“These seniors could have gotten down on themselves but we’ve always kept working hard,” explains Wiser on Linfield’s mindset. “Coach (Larry) Doty is a very easy guy to work hard for.”
Just when fans begin to think that Wiser has shown them everything possible, he elevates his game one step higher. There is no greater evidence than this season’s contest on the road at Pacific.
Leading the Wildcats to a 94-92 double-overtime victory, Wiser tallied three game-saving baskets. He knocked down a 3-pointer to force overtime, then hit a second 3-pointer to send the game into double-overtime.
His game-high 39 points and 15 rebounds was capped off with a game-clinching tip-in at the buzzer in the second overtime.
But has Wiser had a more memorable game?
“No. That’s the one,” says Wiser with a smile. “Before that I’ve probably had only two games dating back to grade school where I’ve had a game-winner. That game was ridiculous.
“The first basket was ‘I can’t believe that went in,’ then the second one was with 8.5 left so there was a different mindset,” notes Wiser. “The first one I was really elated and happy but the second one I switched to a defensive mindset knowing we needed a stop.”
As Wiser prepares to step onto the diamond this spring and compete for the Wildcats nationally-ranked baseball team, he is quick to reflect on a memorable four years in the confines of Ted Wilson Gym.
“I’ve looked more at the wins and losses,” reflects Wiser, when asked if he thinks about the personal accomplishments he has achieved. “It’s crazy because I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Honestly I had no idea; I thought I was going to be basically the same thing as it was at Tigard. Be one of the guys that worked hard, but not being the main focal point.”
–Eric Evenson '11