The Kentucky Wildcats have shown improvements in each of their last five games. Shooting has been better, rebounding has been better, and everyone is finally starting to get healthy.
We have gotten glimpses of what Nick Richards can do, what EJ Montgomery is made of, and how dangerous Tyrese Maxey can be. This team has a high ceiling when everyone is playing up to their potential.
According to John Calipari, however, that ceiling drastically changes if Kahlil Whitney becomes who the coaching staff believes he can be.
“I’ve told the team, we’ve got a ceiling unless he plays for us,” Calipari told the media on Tuesday. “We don’t have anybody like him. He’s the one.”
He has a great point. While they all have different strengths, the three starting guards bring similar contributions to the table. And while Richards and Montgomery are certainly not the same guy, they can provide a lot of the same things for the Wildcats. That applies to Nate Sestina to some degree, as well.
But Whitney has a combination of size, speed, and strength that is unmatched on the roster. Yes, Keion Brooks is all of those things. But Brooks looks more like a stretch 4 most of the time, whereas Whitney is a true 3 with the potential to play both guard and in the post.
Brooks seems to have broken out of his shell to an extent, and Calipari seems to believe that it is only a matter of time before Whitney does the same. If Coach Cal is correct, the emergence of Whitney will establish the Wildcats as the elite team all of college basketball is missing.
With finals week ending and Camp Cal on the horizon, it looks like Whitney may find himself in a classic blue pill-red pill situation heading into the new year.