When Kentucky commit Kahlil Whitney waited to sign his National Letter of Intent, many fans were concerned that the 6-foot-7 wing was second-guessing his decision. He announced when the signing would eventually take place – May 3 – and why he was waiting to do it – to make it official back where he grew up in Chicago.
Until pen hit paper, though, there was still a sense of uneasiness among the Big Blue Nation.
In a video released by Fresh Focus Sports this weekend, the reasoning for the delay was highlighted for fans to see, and it makes complete sense.
In short, Whitney overcame countless adversities throughout his childhood in Chicago. Where he lived, gun violence and drug use was an everyday occurrence in his community, and had he made a few wrong turns growing up, his life could have been exponentially different.
It had nothing to do with Kentucky and his love for the program. Instead, Whitney just wanted to show other children in the same area that they can find success in life, as well.
“The kids are still going through that,” Whitney’s mother, Chanel Tillmon, said. “At recess, they’re still running from gun shots. It’s still going on today. I like the fact that he’s going back and giving kids motivation, letting them know that no matter where you are raised or where you come from, dreams do come true.”
For Whitney, that dream was to sign with Kentucky and eventually make it to the NBA. He has made that clear on multiple occasions.
Back at the 2019 McDonald’s All-America event in March, the future Wildcat told KSR that Kentucky has been his “dream school” since he was a little kid.
“The relationship I have with Coach Cal (is what sold me on finally committing), but Kentucky has always been my dream school since I was about seven or eight years old,” Whitney said. “Coach Cal really coaches guys and gets the best out of them.”
The future Wildcat added that he doesn’t just want to be a college star and a solid NBA draft pick. Whitney wants to become one of the greatest players to ever touch a basketball, and he feels Kentucky is the place to make that happen.
“I went to Kentucky to make my dreams come true,” he said. “Since I was a kid, I wanted to be a McDonald’s All-American. I made that happen. I’m just looking forward to the future because I want to make it to the NBA, but not just make it, I want to be an All-Star, a legend like LeBron, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, all those guys. I knew what Coach Cal has done in the past, and I’m confident in him, and I’m pretty sure he’s confident in me and we can get that job done.”
While the term “dream school” is thrown around often – far too often, probably – in the world of recruiting, today, we have physical evidence that Kentucky has been on Whitney’s mind for several years now, well before he became an elite recruit.
In that same video titled “Chapter 11 – Kahlil Whitney: Year of the Dragon,” Whitney’s seventh and eighth grade Reading and Writing teacher, Felicia Eptien, found an old project the future Wildcat presented back when she had him in class over four years ago named “Kahlil Whitney’s Wildest Dreams.”
When discussing his “wildest dreams,” Whitney said that he wanted to eventually play at Kentucky and make it to the NBA.
“I want to go to the NBA and I think I can make it there if I keep working the way I am,” he wrote. “I want to attend the University of Kentucky. Hopefully when I attend Kentucky I want to get a business degree. I want a business degree because I want to start my own business and have more credentials. If I have a good year playing basketball I will enter the draft. If I get drafted I would instantly move my mom into a house.”
After reading off the assignment to the crowd at Whitney’s signing ceremony earlier this month, Eptien showed the camera what he had written as proof:
On May 3, Whitney’s dreams finally turned into a reality, as the 6-foot-7 prospect signed his National Letter of Intent and became a Kentucky Wildcat.
“When I sign it, I’ll officially be a part of the Wildcats, the Wildcats team,” the future Wildcat said. “It’s a dream come true. If you asked me that three or four years ago, I never thought I’d actually be in the situation I am in right now. I never actually told anybody, but Kentucky has always been my dream school. It’s way bigger than that piece of paper.”
In the entire video, we get an inside look at Whitney’s childhood, including interviews with the future Wildcat’s family about the challenges he faced growing up. From there, we get to see Whitney head to John M. Gregory Elementary School, mingle with current students, hug his old teachers, and finally put pen to paper in front of all of his closest friends and family.
You’ll want to watch this through from start to finish:
Congratulations on accomplishing your wildest dreams, Kahlil. Let’s make the next one come true in Lexington this year.