It is no secret that Kentucky’s frontcourt looks to be a little thin for the 2019-2020 season.
With N’Faly Dante out of the picture, the Wildcats will need to rely upon sophomore EJ Montgomery, junior Nick Richards, and graduate transfer senior Nate Sestina. While there is a lot of potential talent there, that leaves little depth and less flexibility in lineup combinations.
Some have speculated that Keion Brooks could fill in at the four spot in small ball lineups. Brooks has shown the potential to play virtually every position, and he certainly has the strength the bang around in the paint. But it seems he is not the only player with the ability to provide some support in the frontcourt.
Corey Evans of Rivals.com believes that Kahlil Whitney has the size and skill set to fill in at the power forward position when needed this season. Evans watched Whitney during the recent Nike Skills Academy in California.
And based on the picture Whitney tweeted on Tuesday, he could also play defensive end or professional boxer.
The work don’t stop!!! pic.twitter.com/LaTOPPkA7m— Kahlil The Dragon Whitney (@KahlilWhitney) August 13, 2019
In calling Whitney Kentucky’s “best option” at power forward, Evans had this to say about how playing Whitney there could impact the Cats this season:
“The Wildcats struck out too many times to recall last year whenever it came to chasing the best post prospects nationally,” Evans wrote. “This may have forced the hand of John Calipari going the small ball route, and placing the five best bodies on the court has become the dominant theme in Lexington. Whitney didn’t shoot it great in California, but he was all over the place on the defensive end and was at his best as downhill attacker off of the perimeter. Whitney at the four might not be what he wants to hear right now, but it could also be the game-changing type of move that raises the Wildcats’ ceiling next season.“
Elsewhere, Jonathan Giovanni of ESPN had his own breakdown of Whitney from the Nike Skills Academy:
“Whitney was arguably the most impressive player in the first evening of scrimmages, and though his performance tapered off afterward, he still had an eye-opening weekend,” wrote GIovanni. “Part of that is due to his 207-pound physique, which boasts measurements similar to those of Andre Roberson and Thaddeus Young.
“Whitney’s athleticism stood out consistently. He put his ahead above the rim on numerous occasions, both finishing lobs and creating shots himself. At this stage, his physical tools are best utilized on the defensive end. He has the strength to put a body on almost any big man, but the length and mobility to slide with perimeter players using rangy strides affords him the type of multipositional versatility NBA teams covet.’
Giovanni went on to say Whitney’s offense needs work, especially when it comes to playing on the wing, partly due to his ballhandling and inconsistent shooting. However, those are two things that won’t be exposed as much if he’s playing in the paint a lot as a 4.
You would have to think Calipari is exploring his options for various lineups that could be dependable this season, and coming up with a plan for the frontcourt for when foul trouble and injuries strike. Playing with one big man and four guards/wings may be the Wildcats’ best option this season.
What would you think about the Wildcats playing more small ball this season?