You’re not going to find his name on any Mock Draft boards, but NBA franchises are at least curious about Kahlil Whitney.
The former Kentucky Men’s Basketball freshman previously left the program halfway through the season in order to prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft. Whitney played in 22 games for the ‘Cats a season ago, starting 14 of them, but averaged just 3.3 points in under 13 minutes per game. His decision to leave was met with heavy criticism by the fanbase for several reasons, but according to Mike Mazzo of Forbes, Whitney is still gaining interest among NBA front offices and has participated in 25 Zoom meetings with various teams ahead of Wednesday night’s draft.
“The 19-year-old considered transferring to Michigan or Illinois, but because of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, he ultimately decided to declare for the draft,” Mazzo wrote. “Since then, he’s had 25 Zoom calls with NBA teams, but hasn’t been able to showcase his skills for them due to the lack of a combine and in-person workouts at team facilities.”
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) November 17, 2020
Despite the lack of in-person workouts, Whitney is still on the radar. At 6-foot-6 with an impressive frame, he’s an intriguing prospect based on athletic potential alone. Leaving Kentucky certainly did him no favors with his draft status, but it’s not something he thinks about all that often. In fact, he prefers the uncertainty of the unknown.
“Some people might call me crazy, but I actually like this feeling,” Whitney told Forbes. “I like not really knowing what my future holds. But everything is in my hands, so it keeps me disciplined. It keeps me focused. It keeps me motivated.”
In the article, Mazzo writes that Whitney has been participating in open runs with fellow NBA players and prospects while adding 10 pounds of muscle (how could he possibly add any more?) and fixing up his shooting mechanics and ball-handling. ESPN’s draft expert Mike Schmitz said earlier on Tuesday during a teleconference that Whitney has potential as a second-round pick.
“And then in terms of Kahlil, physically he’s exactly what teams want on the wing. Just kind of with the very limited sample size at Kentucky and then given the circumstances of the pandemic, he’s been kind of a difficult guy, I think, for teams to evaluate just because they haven’t been able to see much of him.
“I think he’s an interesting name when you talk about a guy in the 50s who would maybe take a two-way, because teams, I think, in their two-ways, they want guys, not the same for every team, but they want guys who have a chance to play in the NBA. They want guys who are kind of a swing, who could potentially be a contributor down the road, and I think he fits that mold. Obviously former McDonald’s All-American and very accomplished player at the prep level.
“I would look for him kind of in that mold”. – Schmitz
The pandemic has made this Draft impossible to predict. Teams have had longer than ever to evaluate these prospects, and yet many expect draft-night trades to consume the headlines. In any other draft, I would say it’s clear that Whitney doesn’t get selected, but in 2020, anything goes.
The 2020 NBA Draft is set for Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN.