Sixth Sense

Khalif Wyatt couldn't have made a bigger jump from freshman to sophomore year with the Temple men's basketball team. After playing just 19 minutes and scoring five points his entire first season, he averaged 10.1 points in 20.7 minutes per contest and was named A-10 Sixth Man of the Year. Even after the dramatic rise, Wyatt feels there is still room to grow as he approaches his junior campaign.

Khalif Wyatt couldn't have made a bigger jump from freshman to sophomore year with the Temple men's basketball team.

A raw player carrying around excess weight, Wyatt played just 19 minutes and scored five points his entire first season. But the slimmed-down guard broke out last year, averaging 10.1 points in 20.7 minutes per contest and leading the Owls with 45 steals in 34 games as the top option off the bench.

Even after the dramatic rise in production, Wyatt feels there is still room to grow as he approaches his junior campaign. He took coach Fran Dunphy's suggestion that his fitness level could still improve to heart.

"I'm focused on being more of a leader, I'm older now and guys listen to me," said Wyatt before a recent Delaware County Pro-Am Men's Basketball Summer League game. "My body is better, I'm getting in better shape. With my improved quickness, I'm showing I have athleticism and I belong.

"I haven't been in the best shape I can be in yet, but I'm pretty much in the best shape of my life. I feel better, feel lighter, it's exciting."

Wyatt's improved athleticism was on display in the summer league game as he constantly took the ball to the basket and scored, dished or earned a trip to the free-throw line. Last season, 101 of his 233 shots were three-pointers – he hit on 41 percent from long range – and he averaged less than two assists per game.

"I only averaged 19-20 minutes last year, and I'm planning on playing more than that and producing," said Wyatt.

Extra time might be hard to come by as the Owls return all their other guards – Ramone Moore, Juan Fernandez and T.J. Dileo – and add incoming freshman Will Cummings to the mix. Small forwards Scootie Randall and Aaron Brown are also back.

Wyatt and Cummings are teammates in the summer league along with Dalton Pepper, who will sit out his transfer from West Virginia this season and be eligible to play for the Owls in 2012-2013.

"Will's young, just learning, but he's going to be real good," said Wyatt. "He's athletic, fast and humble."

Looking back at his impressive sophomore campaign, Wyatt agreed he couldn't ask for much more. He was named Atlantic 10 Conference Sixth Man of the Year as Temple went 26-8, captured the A-10 regular-season title and won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in a decade.

"Coming in, I didn't know what was going to happen," admitted Wyatt. "I didn't know how much I was going to play or anything like that. It pretty much played itself out. The more I played, my confidence grew. The more my confidence grew, my coaches' confidence grew with me. From there, it was just winning.

"That was the funnest season I ever had playing basketball, just winning and contributing, I liked all my teammates. It was fun."

If Wyatt's confidence and improved fitness is any indication, the fun could be just beginning.

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