By LARRY VAUGHT
Ask anyone who has seen Kentucky freshman basketball player Kahlil Whitney play and they are likely to talk about the high motor he always has when he plays and his incredible athleticism that can turn heads no matter who he’s playing with or against.
“Seeing how the greats were successful at getting to their spots and having that dog mentality impressed me. All the great players do that. I expend all my energy being very aggressive and get the best out of that. That’s what gets my game going,” Whitney, who grew up with former Wildcat Anthony Davis as his favorite player, said.
During some AAU games, Whitney made plays that sometimes had everyone in the gym watching.
“It is just God-given ability and talent. God gave me great athletic ability and I can block shots, go to the other end and dunk. I notice it when the crowd is roaring and I can barely hear myself speak. It is amazing. I really like that,” Whitney said.
He could have Big Blue fans screaming a lot this year, especially since his physical presence could have him even playing some power forward if coach John Calipari goes with a smaller lineup.
“The first time I went to Rupp Arena for Big Blue Madness it was crazy. They sold out for that. It was an experience like no other,” Whitney said. “Coach (Calipari) talks about big-time games and how the crowd will be. I like interacting with the crowd and getting momentum. You have to know how to handle that.”
He’s learning just how passionate Kentucky fans can be from social media and has been recognized often by fans since his arrival at UK in June.
“When I was a kid I wanted that. I would take pictures with Jabari Parker and all those guys,” Whitney said. “If people want to take pictures of me or get an autograph, I love it. I’ll take it every day.
“If I have to take an hour to sign autographs, I will take an hour. It’s amazing to have people look up to you and aspire to be like you. That’s a huge honor I don’t take lightly.”
Whitney says he is a family-oriented person – has a sister and two brothers – and likes to spend time around the house watching Netflix, paying Fortnight or just hanging out.
“I am a jokester, a clown. I like making people laugh and stuff like that. I am just a fun guy,” Whitney said. A lot of people don’t know that I play the drums. I just like to put a smile on your face any way I can.”
Like UK teammate Immanuel Quickley, Whitney says he played drums in his church as a kid.
“I started off with a bongo (drum) when I was in church. After that when I was old enough to stay on rhythm, I took drum classes. I used to play at church on Sundays with the choir and stuff like that and really liked it,” he said.