Sport Khalil Whitney's decision to transfer from Kentucky could have come at a better time
Calipari found five who clicked for Kentucky. What will that mean for everyone else?
LEXINGTON, Ky. - As inspiring as it might have played, the lineup Kentucky fans saw win in come-from-behind fashion at Georgia on Tuesday may not be the lineup that starts against Alabama on Saturday. UK coach John Calipari cited too many variables that can arise to say he's settled into reliance on the lineup featuring three guards (Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley), forward Nate Sestina and big man Nick Richards. Calipari leaned on a basketball truism to explain his thinking.“It doesn’t matter who you start,” he said Friday. “It’s who finishes the game.”Game plans and matchups may dictate changes, he said.
There are those who would say that if one is planning to leave the Kentucky Wildcats basketball program, there might be no better time than on the eve of a trip to Lubbock, Texas.
Lubbock jokes are easy, especially for those who’ve never been there.
College basketball is hard.
No one ever said this would be a layup, even for a player such as Khalil Whitney, who was a McDonald’s All-American and ranked No. 11 in the 2019 recruiting class by 247 Sports. He was considered the prize of Kentucky’s class, a designation that in the past has often led to status as an All-American or a lottery pick.
No. 14 Kentucky tops Alabama 76-67 for 1,000th SEC victory
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Immanuel Quickley scored the game's final five points and finished with 19, Ashton Hagans had 15 with big 3 late and No. 14 Kentucky topped Alabama 76-67 on Saturday for its 1,000th Southeastern Conference victory. The Wildcats (12-3, 3-0 SEC) led by 15 early in the second half before a cold stretch allowed the Crimson Tide to climb within 63-60 with just over five minutes remaining. Quickley nailed a 3 from the right corner with 4:33 left before Hagans followed from near the top of the arc at 2:20 for a 69-62 edge that helped offset John Petty Jr.'s 3 that cut the deficit to four.
Now, for Whitney, it has resulted in entry to the NCAA transfer portal. He announced the decision via social media Friday. His most likely destination, according to recruiting sources, is Georgetown, but schools closer to his Chicago home — Illinois and DePaul — figure to try to convince him otherwise.
Whitney’s stature as a prospect helped lead to a spot in the Kentucky starting lineup on opening night in the Champions Classic against No. 1 Michigan State. It did not, however, lead to all that many points or rebounds. He started eight games before coach John Calipari decided to try something else. Whitney averaged 13 minutes per game. He shot 37 percent from the field and made just four 3-pointers.
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What Whitney is doing, though, leaving the UK program now — halfway through the season, with the Wildcats ranked No. 15 and attempting to build toward another SEC championship and NCAA Tournament run — is entirely pointless.
He loses at least 15 games of college experience that he’ll never recover. Whenever his next year in college starts — perhaps this autumn if he can secure a waiver of the year-in-residence rule, perhaps in 2021 — he will have sophomore eligibility.
He will lose the opportunity to develop in practice. It’s not like players never improve at Kentucky. Ask wing P.J. Washington, for instance, or Chicago’s own DeAndre Liggins.
In the 2010-11 season, Liggins became a defensive specialist for Calipari and averaged 32 minutes a game, after averaging about 16 in his first two seasons. He became a key to the Wildcats reaching the Final Four.
It’s also not as if we’ve never seen a player struggle through much of his freshman year and then blossom in the game’s biggest spotlight. In his freshman year, Duke’s Grayson Allen played more than 20 minutes just twice. In the NCAA championship game, however, he played 21 minutes, scored 16 points and was the essential ingredient in getting the Blue Devils past Wisconsin for the 2015 NCAA championship.
Five Virginia Tech players, including three WRs, entered transfer portal in one day
Hokies were a part of a potential mass portal exodus Wednesday evening.As of this posting, three Virginia Tech football players announced on Twitter Wednesday that they have entered the NCAA transfer database. Two of those entries are wide receivers — redshirt junior Hezekiah Grimsley (HERE) and true freshman Jacoby Pinckney (HERE) — to go along with running back Caleb Steward (HERE).
Kentucky had not given up on Whitney. He played 10 minutes in the loss to South Carolina, but when he got only four minutes combined in two subsequent games, it appeared things were not moving in the best direction.
His season might have been recovered, though. A positive approach and a few dropped shots might have increased his playing time. It wasn’t too late for him to get something positive out of his freshman season.
Now, he’ll just move on, leaving all that possibility unspent.
Despite what some coaches say, there is nothing wrong with the NCAA’s “transfer portal.”
It’s all in whether one chooses to use it wisely, which did not happen here.
Related slideshow: Best photos of NCAA basketball (Provided by imagn)
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Standing at 6'6” (per 247 sports) Kahlil Whitney is a presence not only in the post but on the perimeter. He made a lot of noise dominating the talent while at Eric ...