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John Calpiari doesn’t really know why Kahlil Whitney left

Kahlil Whitney (Jeff Houchin Photo)


Kentucky coach John Calipari said he was surprised by Kahlil Whitney’s decision to leave the program on Friday.

The freshman announced on social media he was leaving Kentucky after playing just four total minutes the previous two games after he began the season as a starter.

“I was a little bit surprised. But it’s not my life,” Calipari said Saturday after UK won in overtime at Texas Tech.

It was the first time the coach had talked about Whitney’s decision which was announced after Calipari finished his media opportunity Friday morning.

Calipari said Whitney never showed a bad attitude when his playing time diminished and he normally was always encouraging teammates during games. His less than stellar play also never seemed to be from lack of effort.

“Whether it’s people convincing him, whatever it is, I don’t know … “ Calipari said about why Whitney decided to leave with two months to go in the season.

Calipari was obviously sad to see him leave rather than stay to improve his game like PJ Washington, Ashton Hagans, Nick Richards and Immanuel Quickly have done in the last two years.

“I stay up nights trying to figure out how I get guys to play better,” Calipari said. “Not how my team plays better. What do we do defensively that we can help people? Are there plays that we can run to get somebody going? What would that be?

“I stay up nights (and) I want every kid to make it, but there are times kids think it’s not here (at Kentucky).

“We haven’t had many (leave) — four or five kids. I get disappointed as much at myself (because) I wasn’t able to help him breakthrough. I told him (I would be there for him).”


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  1. Hate to.see the kid leave. But that does open up a scholarship Cal get another blue chip player to go along next year stellar class.

  2. Kahlil believed the hype that he did not live up to. His play said otherwise. He needs to be honest with himself about this and work on getting better. Right now he could get in the G League, but he wouldn’t last a year there either. Find another school, get your degree, see how your skills are in 3 years, then take your shot at the big time.

  3. I find it hard to believe that Calipari does not know why Whitney left. For the last month or so, Calipari has been making public statements designed to bolster Whitney’s confidence and demonstrate the lengths that Calipari is going to help Whitney grow as a player in this program. Some of those statements have been odd, to say the least, which indicated at the time that Calipari knew something was not working as it should.

    I believe Calipari knows much more about this situation than he is willing to say in public now.

    As for Whitney, I find it peculiar that a player can believe he is NBA material when he cannot compete and earn playing time against college players.

  4. I don’t see this as some big secret conspiracy or anything. I also take Cal at his word. Whitney was not seeing enough playing time and wanted to try his luck someplace else. I think it was that simple. This young man can play, There is video evidence around to prove that from his prep playing days. He is a tremendous athlete, he will be fine. I wish him well and plan to follow his college career where ever he winds up.

  5. Whitney left because he is being controlled by people who believe the press clippings from high school.

    Only 1 guy who has transferred from Kentucky since Cal arrived has been drafted. That was Kyle Wiltjer. He was miles ahead of Whitney in terms of scoring.

    This is a huge setback for Whitney. He and his clueless handlers don’t realize it yet, but, it is.

    If Whitney makes it to the NBA, I’ll be surprised. Had he stayed on for his Soph or JR years, I believe he would have made it. Transferring about like this, he’ll wind up in Europe at best.

    Say goodbye to those NBA dreams.

  6. Cal knows why he left but he respects the privacy and decisions of these players. If he comes out and says why he left, he looks petty and mean spirited to many folks. That would bite him in future recruiting. Hence, he keeps it private. And that is the smart thing to do.

    It’s these kids lives. If parents and AAU coaches want to make a mess of things, it’s no one’s fault but theirs.

    Too bad, Whitney is listening.

    How many people have these folks helped to the NBA?

    I’m going to say….ZERO!

    How many people has Cal helped to the NBA? 50 or 60 or more?

    I know who I’d listen to.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, well said. Folks it’s time to move on.

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