Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kentucky commit Kahlil Whitney eyeing New Jersey TOC title, future with the Cats
By ADAM ZAGORIAPATERSON, N.J. –– In a sold-out gym at Don Bosco Tech High School on New Year’s Day, Kahlil Whitney and his Roselle Catholic teammates put on a dunk fest that lasted an entire game.
The 6-foot-6 Kentucky-bound Whitney threw down several early dunks and teammates Josh Pierre-Louis, the 6-2 UNLV-bound point guard, and 6-11 Cliff Omoruyi, an uncommitted junior big man, soon joined the fun. Together, the trio combined for 56 points in a 72-60 win over Montclair Immaculate in the New Year’s Jam Fest.
“Yeah, it was a fun game,” said Whitney, who earned MVP honors after scoring 24 points. “It was packed, we just had to come out and put on a show and get the win most of all.”
Pierre-Louis had 19 points in the win, scoring many of those on jaw-dropping one-handed dunks in transition.
“Joshua Pierre-Louis is the dunk champ right now,” Whitney said. “He gets way more dunks than me right now. But other than that, we just come out there and we have fun day in and day out.”
Not to be out-done, Omoruyi was a man among boys, flushing several dunks with assistants from Auburn, Rutgers and Pittsburgh looking on.
Roselle Catholic (8-0), ranked No. 2 in New Jersey by NJ.com, remained unbeaten on the season as it looks forward to several more showcase games in the coming weeks. The Lions will face First Love Christian on Saturday in the Cancer Research Classic in West Virginia.
On Jan. 13, Roselle Catholic, the reigning New Jersey Tournament of Champions winner, will meet New York State Federation champ Archbishop Stepinac in Pat Lawless’ Empire Invitational at Mount Saint Michael in The Bronx. On Jan. 19, the Lions will head to the prestigious Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., to face Norcross, Ga.
Looming on Jan. 30 is a showdown with New Jersey’s Ranney School, which is ranked No. 1 in the state and features Villanova-bound guard Bryan Antoine and Florida-boung wing Scottie Lewis.
Ranney is ranked No. 5 nationally by USA Today and is coming off winning the John Wall Holiday Invitational, while Roselle Catholic is No. 12.
Whitney will likely end up battling with Antoine and Lewis for New Jersey Player of the Year honors.
“I treat every game the same,” Whitney said. “I feel like those teams, they’re highly ranked, and we’re going to come in and win. We’re going to have to win because that’s what we’re going to do.”
Omoruyi, who played just his third game of the season on Tuesday, could end up being a difference-maker against teams like Ranney, which will soon add junior wing Philip Wheeler and uncommitted senior pint guard Ahmadu Sarnor.
“Cliff alters a lot of shots,” Whitney said. “He’s a great offensive and defensive rebounder. We do a great job of playing defense and Cliff is a big piece to altering shots.”
As for his future school, Whitney spoke with Kentucky coach John Calipari on New Year’s Eve Day and they talked a little about the state of the Wildcats.
“How did the ‘L’ feel bro,” Whitney messaged Igiehon. “He didn’t feel too good about that but he said he’s going to get us next year.”
Asked if he’s looking forward to playing in that game next year, Whitney said, “For sure, for sure.”
**As I wrote in this feature on Forbes SportsMoney, Whitney plans to sign his National Letter of Intent to Kentucky in April at his grammar school in Chicago. We are also working on a documentary showcasing Whitney’s senior season at Roselle Catholic. Stay tuned for that in the coming weeks and months.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.