Kahlil Whitney: Chicago Native Puts In Work in New Jersey

Photo courtesy of Position Sports/Nike/Jon Lopez

By David Cordova

As of late, the high school class of 2019 has had a lot of sleepers turn into ranked prospects and players in the top 100 go up to top-30, and some even higher, due to their play on the sneaker circuits.

One player that is getting plenty of recognition these is Kahlil Whitney. The 6-foot-7 rising senior forward is rated the No. 14 prospect in the country by ESPN and has shown that he is worthy of being a Division I player and a future pro with his athleticism on both ends of the court and also his shooting, as well as his length and long wingspan.

When asked what motivates him to be successful in the game of basketball, he replied, “My family, seeing my mom & dad work every day, so coming out here, I got a chance to do something special, so I take advantage of it.”

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Whitney shows off the flick of the wrist after shooting a jumper at the Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament in Lewes, Delaware. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography)

Whitney hails from Chicago, Illinois, which is a city rich with basketball talent, with plenty of great players coming from there and also the influence of the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. However, it is also a city that is that also has its dangerous times as it is No. 9 in the country in homicide rates with 23.8% in 2017.

“It means a lot coming from Chicago,” says Whitney about his hometown, “It’s tough there, so coming out here to Jersey, playing my own different type of basketball is special.”

He definitely has some special genes in his family. His father, Kelly Whitney, was a four-year starter at Seton Hall University and scored 1,448 points in his time for the Pirates. When asked about lessons the elder Whitney imparted on him, the younger Whitney replied, “My dad is on me all the time about trying to be a better person, in school, you know, respectful to my elders, stuff like that. I’m in the gym every day with my dad, so he’s a great mentor.”

Whitney started out high school at Eric Solorio Academy High School as a freshman, where he was considered one of the best ninth graders in the city. But then he decided to transfer to Roselle Catholic in Roselle, New Jersey as a sophomore.

When asked about why he decided to leave the Windy City and make the move to the Garden State, he replied, “Just to play a national schedule, and my dad.”

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Whitney blocks the shot of a player from Smyrna High School at the Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament in Lewes, Delaware last year.

And in comparing basketball in Chicago to basketball in New Jersey, he replied, “New Jersey basketball, there’s a lot of talent, in Chicago, there’s a lot of basketball players that play hard, and they’re very gritty.”

As a sophomore, he averaged 9.7 points per game for the Lions. This past season, as a junior, he averaged 13.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, as he helped lead Roselle Catholic to a 29-4 record, a state championship and a New Jersey Tournament of Champions title. At the end of the season, the Lions were ranked No. 10 in the USA Today national poll and No. 1 in the state of New Jersey.

When asked about his junior season, Whitney replied, “It was great, we won every game in Jersey and we won the TOC. [Winning the TOC] was really special. I’ll remember it the rest of my life.”

On the Nike EYBL circuit, Whitney played for the Mac Irvin Fire, a powerhouse AAU program from his hometown. This spring and summer, Whitney averaged 21.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, as he led them to a berth at the Nike Peach Jam.

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Whitney shoots a jumper for Roselle Catholic against Gill St. Bernard’s in the NJSIAA sectional championship game at Rutgers University. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography)

“It was special playing with my childhood friends,” said Whitney about his last season playing AAU with Mac Irvin Fire, “And we all go hard [on the court].”

Just recently, Whitney narrowed his collegiate recruitment to eight schools: Florida State, Georgetown, Kentucky, Miami, Illinois, Louisville, Oregon and SMU. Of the eight, there are two schools that definitely have a huge chance of landing him, which are Illinois.

The University of Illinois is his local state school, which is located in Champaign, Illinois, which is two hours south of Chicago. The Fighting Illini also have a history of landing players from the Windy City at their school and also, they play in the Big Ten Conference, and this year, they play in the United Center, the home of the Chicago Bulls.

Kentucky is a program that sells itself, with its history over many, many years. In the last ten years under head coach John Calipari, the program has been famous for sending players to the NBA after just one season of collegiate basketball.

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Whitney signs an autograph for a fan at the Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament in Lewes, Delaware. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography)

As a high school freshman, Whitney was quoted in an NBC Sports Chicago article as saying, “I want to go to Kentucky. I hope to get an offer from them if I blow up. I like Coach Calipari. He’s a great coach. You can display your talent at the highest level and I just love the atmosphere there for games.”

Also, two weeks ago, Calipari was one of 25 Division I coaches on hand at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey for a high school team event called The Weekend, in which Whitney and his Roselle Catholic were playing against in-state teams such as Bergen Catholic and Immaculate Conception.

Wherever Whitney goes, whether it’ll be at either of those two institutions or not, he will be a game-changing player at whatever program he lands at. All he has left now in high school is his senior season, the chance at helping Roselle Catholic repeat as the TOC champions and a possible McDonald’s All-American selection.

As far as the goals for his senior year, he replied, “Just win as much games as possible, going for the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Jersey and just being a better player and person on and off the court.”

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Whitney with a thunderous dunk against Gill St. Bernard’s in the NJSIAA sectional championship game at Rutgers University. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography)

Who knows, after a year or two, he may even join the NBA ranks and have his nam called by Adam Silver on Draft Night. Only time will tell where the legend of Kahlil Whitney will take him.

When asked whether he’d rather play at either Madison Square Garden in New York City or the United Center in Chicago, he replied, “United Center, ’cause that’s in Chicago.”

You can take the kid out of the Windy City, but you can’t take the Windy City out of the kid.

Highlights of Kahlil Whitney:

Courtesy of Jersey Sports Zone.

Courtesy of Fresh Coast Hoops.

Courtesy of Hoop Diamonds.

Courtesy of Hoop Major Media.

Courtesy of Courtside Films.

Courtside of ItsPrestigeTV.

Courtesy of Hoop Major Media.

Courtesy of Ballislife.

Courtesy of Hoop Diamonds.

Courtesy of Ballislife Midwest.

Courtesy of Ballislife Midwest.

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