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Kahlil Whitney includes Illinois in final four schools

Whitney is one of the top-50 recruits from the class of 2019.

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Update (8/5/18):

The Illini made the final four schools for Kahlil Whitney, even after he had what seemed to be a successful visit to Kentucky.

Original Article:

Kahlil Whitney is listed as the No. 45 player in the class of 2019, according to 247Sports.com, and has been a top target for Underwood and Co. since the new staff took over last spring. The Roselle, New Jersey, native is listed at 6-foot-6, 190 pounds, a similar build and a similar role to incoming freshman Tevian Jones.

The four-star wing currently holds offers from Georgetown, Louisville, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, Oregon, Viriginia, among others.

Whitney is running with the Mac Irvin Fire again in this summer’s Nike EYBL circuit, the same AAU team Ayo Dosunmu and Da’Monte Williams ran with in high school and the same squad as Illinois’ top 2020 target, Adam Miller. If the current staff can secure Morgan Park and MIF as a pipeline, it could pay immediate dividends to the program, starting with those four guys.

In today’s game, players can be some of the team’s biggest recruiters (see Trent Frazier.) If Ayo starts getting in Whitney and Miller’s ears about the foundation Underwood is laying and to come be a part of something special, it could mean a solid backcourt for years to come.

Probably my favorite thing about Whitney’s game is that he dunks the ball... and actually seems to enjoy it. The Illini have found themselves at the bottom of the Big Ten three consecutive years in slam dunks. Illinois has lacked a sense of explosiveness since Kendrick Nunn left the program, and it’s been rather noticeable.

This edge to Whitney’s game, along with his sweet stroke from downtown and more than capable ball handling skills would allow him to come onto the team and have an impact that’s felt immediately. Whitney could find himself in the high-post area, playing a similar role to Leron Black this past year, but Whitney’s athleticism makes him a better fit for the position. He has the ability to hit the elbow jumper, attack the rim, or roll off the handoff. The give-and-go with Trent could very well be the team’s halfcourt go-to.

Barring any transfers next offseason (there’s likely to be some) and any late pickups this summer, the Illini will have three open scholarships entering the 2018-19 season. Brad Underwood loses sharpshooter Aaron Jordan this year to graduation, so that means there should be plenty of minutes on the wing up for grabs. Tevian Jones is poised for a solid freshman campaign. The California kid was a steal for the staff after Jones withdrew Arizona from the recruitment, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a breakout season. He’ll get his fair share of the minutes with Kipper, Jordan, and Da’Monte all looking to crack the lineup.

But with Jordan gone and Kipper Nichols in his senior season with the team, Whitney will have opportunity to be one of the key perimeter guys for Brad Underwood in a couple years. In fact, a backcourt with Trent, Ayo, Whitney, and Tevian is pretty intimidating.

The Illini currently have the 23rd-ranked class for 2018, and the 2019 class won’t be nearly as large, but expect the staff to make a strong push for Whitney over the coming months, making him the first domino to fall in next season’s class.