By LARRY VAUGHT
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).”