Days after Kentucky coach John Calipari dipped into the in-state recruiting waters for a mere 4-star recruit, Calipari has returned to form. Wednesday afternoon, news broke that Kentucky had received a commitment from (surprise) 5-star forward Kahlil Whitney, who is ranked as the No. 19 player in the 2019 recruiting class by 247sports.com.
Whitney is Kentucky’s third 2019 commitment (and second 5-star), and with the news of his intention to become a Wildcat, Kentucky has risen to No. 2 in 247sports’s team recruiting rankings for the class.
It’s been a whirlwind courtship for Whitney and Kentucky, with UK suffering a decommitment from D.J. Jeffries, then taking a commitment from in-state rising target Dontaie Allen, and now adding the highest-ranked target of the three players, all of whom are small forwards. But let’s catch up in a hurry — here are five things to know about Kahlil Whitney.
I am committed to The University Of Kentucky!!🧢 pic.twitter.com/WkjfKR3XO1
— THE DRAGON🐉 (@KahlilWhitney) August 8, 2018
1. Whitney fits the profile
Regardless of how many stars the recruit has, what are the common attributes of most Calipari recruits at Kentucky? Intensity, athleticism, work ethic, loves to compete, loves to practice. Check all of those boxes with Whitney. He seems like a natural to play the position-less basketball that Calipari hypes, as he’s speedy and athletic enough to play outside, but strong enough to compete under the glass as well.
2. Whitney is a late riser in the recruiting rankings
One thing that stands out for Whitney is that his list of recruiting finalists didn’t look quite the same as it does for most other 5-star recruits. The schools he turned down for UK included Georgetown, Illinois and Oregon.
Indeed, Kentucky did not get involved with Whitney until July, when former Memphis player Dajuan Wagner apparently bent Calipari’s ear on the topic at the Peach Invitational in Augusta, Ga. Duke tried to get involved in Whitney’s recruitment, but it proved too little, too late.
3. Whitney has good basketball bloodlines
Whitney’s father, Kelly, played at Seton Hall for coach Louis Orr. He played in the NCAA Tournament twice, and in fact, had a 24-point, 14-board effort against Arizona in a 2004 NCAA Tournament victory. The elder Whitney was an inch or two taller and a good bit heavier as a recruit than his son is (at 6-6 or 6-7 and weights listed from 190 to 210 pounds). The younger Whitney’s game tends more toward speed and finesse than his dad’s post-up game, but Kelly is still young enough to administer a few one-on-one lessons.
4. Whitney is the product of another Calipari raid on New Jersey
Only eight Wildcats basketball players have hailed from New Jersey, but the Garden State has been kind to John Calipari, as it yielded Karl-Anthony Towns, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Isaiah Briscoe (who actually played at Roselle Catholic, the same school as Whitney). Put an asterisk by Whitney’s name on that list, as he was from Chicago, but moved to Jersey after his freshman year of high school. Of course, Chicago has also been kind to Calipari (see Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis, etc).
5. Whitney will have a built-in SEC rivalry game
One of the players who has helped Whitney improve is Roselle Catholic teammate Naz Reid, who is a class ahead of him and will be playing center for LSU this fall. Those two will no doubt look forward to competing against each other in 2020.
— Classic KY (@KY_Clips) August 8, 2018