The third UK commit for the class of 2019 spoke with ESPN about his commitment to Kentucky. Kahlil Whitney pledged for the Cats on Wednesday just a few days after his official visit over the weekend.
“After they offered, Coach Cal or one of his assistants were always at one of my games. Kentucky was my dream school,” Whitney told ESPN. “Growing up in Chicago, I remember watching John Wall, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Tyler Ulis. Coach Cal is a great person and a great coach.”
While on his visit Whitney met and spoke with former UK guard Isaiah Briscoe. Whitney attends Roselle Catholic in New Jersey where Briscoe played before enrolling at Kentucky. Sources close to the program say the two talked about Roselle and what it takes to play at Kentucky.
The 6-foot-6, 185-pound guard from Chicago picked UK over Oregon, Illinois and Georgetown, but had just previously cut his list that included Louisville, SMU, Miami and Florida State. Ranked No. 19 in the 247 Sports rankings, Whitney’s involvement with UK moved quickly.
Kentucky started watching Whitney’s games during the second evaluation period in July, offered in mid-July, he scheduled a visit shortly after and pulled the trigger just days after returning home. We should have possibly seen this coming after reading some of Whitney’s quotes when he was a freshman in high school.
“I want to go to Kentucky,” Whitney said back in 2016. “I hope to get an offer from them if I blow up [summer of 2016]. I like Coach Calipari. He’s a great coach. You can display your talent at the highest level and I just love the atmosphere there for games.”
It may have taken Whitney a bit longer to get UK’s attention, but it happened and he didn’t wait long to jump on the offer. He becomes the second UK commitment in a week, following Kentuckian Dontaie Allen, who visited UK just days before Whitney and committed six days ago.
The two have similar games. Both are gifted offensively and can shoot from deep, but Whitney is more athletic and the better defender as of today. Whitney is more battled tested on the AAU circuit, too. Allen’s squad didn’t play a cupcake schedule but it wasn’t the Nike EYBL. He averaged 21.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game on the circuit this summer while shooting 38 percent from deep and averaging over two made threes per game.
Calipari has coined “position-less” basketball, so there’s no doubt that Allen and Whitney can play together.
Both commitments come shortly after the decommitment of D.J. Jeffries. Jeffries picked UK back in March but backed off the pledge on July 30th. Jeffries’ dad mentioned that UK didn’t watch Jeffries last AAU game although the Cats were present for nearly every other game during the circuit. KSR was told that Jeffries’ family wasn’t thrilled UK would be hosting two other wings in Allen and Whitney and that was the actual driving force behind the decommitment.
Jeffries’ game doesn’t compare to Whitney or Allen’s. Jeffries is more defensively oriented and is more adjusted to contact inside, but Whitney and Allen are significantly better offensive players. All three can run the floor well and aren’t afraid to attack the glass. UK is happy with how things played out over the last two weeks.
Where Jeffries may have shied away from competition, Whitney is ready to embrace it.
“I knew when I left Kentucky that it was the place for me,” he told ESPN. “It felt like family. I had other visits planned, but this is where I wanted to be. When I watched the players work out, they were focused and intense. I can see myself playing there — playing with some of the best players in the country and against high-level competition. It will prepare me for my goal to make it to the next level.”
It’s unclear if we should consider Whitney a bonafide one-and-done player. He certainly has the potential to bolt to the NBA after one season, but he will need to polish his game. If I had to guess today I would say he most likely will only spend one year in Lexington, but you never know.
Whitney and Allen join top 10 player Tyrese Maxey as Wildcats in 2019 and John Calipari is far from finished.