So if you follow me on Twitter, and chances are you do if you’re reading this, you’ll know that today I got to spend the day in Irving, Texas at Jermaine O’Neal’s Drive Nation sports facility to check out day two of the Dallas stop on the EYBL circuit.
I’ll be adding my thoughts later about some of the players I watched, which included Syracuse’s 2019 guard commit Brycen Goodine, as well as 2019 targets Joseph Girard, Isaiah Stewart, John Bol Ajak, Khalif Battle, and more, but for now I wanted to focus on a player who completely blew me away.
That’d be Kahlil Whitney, which you could probably have guessed by reading the headline of this piece. Standing at about 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7, the talented swingman from Roselle Catholic (with a hometown of Chicago) was impressive from pregame warmups on. A phenomenal athlete with length and a nice skillset, Whitney attacks the rim with absolute hatred for that metal cylinder.
When I say that Kahlil Whitney likes to dunk the basketball hard… I mean it. And he’s got the hops and the in-game aggression to throw it down often. But that’s the part of his game everyone already knew about, of course. Whitney’s known as a high-flying wing, but what really impressed me was the rest of his game. He’s more than just a great athlete.
Whitney showed off a better than average handle for a player at his size and position. He helped his Mac Irvin Fire squad break the press numerous times against Nike Phamily, and looked confident in doing so. Mac Irvin pressed for much of the game, and trapped opposing ball handlers early and often, and Whitney was active and got into the passing lanes, showing off great quickness and anticipation. And maybe most importantly considering the way the game is evolving, he showed a much smoother shooting stroke than I think I expected to see.
I was a big fan of Whitney’s form and release on both his jumper (midrange and three point-range) and his free throws. I’d heard and read that he’s a great athlete with a growing skillset, and it appears that was either a big-time understatement or his skills have hit a massive growth spurt since those breakdowns were done. To me, Whitney looks like the complete package at small forward. He’s not a knockdown shooter just yet, but he’s more than capable of stretching the floor with solid consistency.
While no official box score has been posted yet, per the Mac Irvin Twitter account, Whitney finished with 36 in his team’s blowout win over the Phamily. One particularly impressive stretch was when he buried a triple, then threw down a dunk on a breakaway, and then posted up, caught an entry pass, made a move into the lane and absolutely posterized a defender off of two feet, piping it hard with one hand. That all happened in a span of about two minutes, and it was par for the course for Whitney throughout the game.
We’ll see how things shake out with Whitney, who right now is, in my opinion, undervalued at just inside the top 60 in the class of 2019. He’s got offers from Illinois, Georgetown, Louisville, Kansas, Oregon, UConn, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and St. John’s, among others, and after this weekend I have a feeling that list is going to grow quickly.
Kahlil Whitney is a bad man, and I really, really want to see him wearing a Syracuse uniform in the 2019-20 season.