UPDATE: This article has been updated with the full release from UK Athletics. That release does contain a statement from Coach John Calipari.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Kentucky men’s basketball freshman forward Kahlil Whitney announced Friday he is leaving the program to pursue other options.
Whitney notified Kentucky of his decision on Friday. If he decides to transfer, he will have the ability to do so to any school without any restrictions, per NCAA rules.
“I can’t express enough the respect I have for Coach Calipari,” Whitney said. “I’ve learned a lot from him in my short time at UK and will take much of his wisdom with me as I continue on my journey.
“I am forever thankful for my time at Kentucky and for all the people I’ve met along the way. I thank the coaches, my teammates, tutors, training staff, advisers and professors for working with and believing in me.
“I wish Big Blue Nation all the best! I’ve heard your voices and positive messages, and I thank you for your continued love and support. I will always be cheering for UK’s success and for all my brothers on the court.”
Whitney played in 18 games with eight starts. He averaged 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 12.8 minutes of action in 2019-20. The 6-foot-6 forward scored a season-high 11 points vs. Eastern Kentucky and nine points vs. Mount St. Mary’s.
“First and foremost, Kahlil is a great kid,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “This is tough for me because Kahlil is a tremendous person who is going to do great things. I certainly don’t want to see him go because I wanted to continue to coach him, but I understand his decision and, as we always do here, will support him in whatever way we can.
“As I told Kahlil today, I hope he goes on and does his thing and makes us all proud. I know he will stay in touch with us and I know our fans will continue to support him as he takes this next step.”
Whitney signed with Kentucky as a McDonald’s All American and the No. 11 overall player in the class of 2019 by the Recruiting Services Consensus Index. He scored more than 2,000 points in his high school career at Roselle Catholic (New Jersey) and helped lead his team to a title at the New Jersey Tournament of Champions in his junior season.
The Chicago native was also a Jordan Brand All-American and was named co-MVP of the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic. Whitney was named to the Naismith High School Boys’ All-America Third Team after his junior season.
Kentucky returns to action on Saturday when they take on No. 18/18 Texas Tech in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Tip is set for 6 p.m. ET on ESPN.
LEXINGTON, KY (WTVQ) – Freshman Kentucky forward Kahlil Whitney has announced he is transferring from Kentucky.
Thank You❤️ Next chapter🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/P3z1RNzHa8
— Kahlil The Dragon Whitney (@KahlilWhitney) January 24, 2020
Whitney was averaging 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds.
While he had seen action in every game this season, Whitney played for only 1 minute vs. Arkansas and 2 minutes vs. Georgia.
Kentucky travels to play Texas Tech on Saturday.