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Kentucky freshman, former five-star recruit Kahlil Whitney leaving program

After just 18 games, Kentucky freshman Kahlil Whitney is leaving the program. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Just 18 games into his collegiate career, Kentucky freshman Khalil Whitney is leaving the Wildcats program.

Whitney, a former five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American, announced on Friday on Twitter that he will transfer. 

“Like so many others, playing at UK had always been a dream of mine,” Whitney wrote on Twitter, in part. “I truly believed Coach Calipari and his program was the best fit to assist in preparing me for the next step in my basketball career.

“Unfortunately, my time at Kentucky has not gone as I had hoped, and I therefore need to make a difficult decision quickly to put myself back in the best position possible as I continue to develop and work toward my ultimate goal.”

Whitney, a 6-foot-7 forward from Chicago, started the first seven games for the Wildcats this season. He has, however, seen his minutes shrink rapidly in recent weeks. He played just four minutes total in Kentucky’s past two games, and scored only three points since the team began conference play. 

The 19-year-old will finish having averaged 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in nearly 13 minutes per game at Kentucky. 

Whitney did not reveal his future plans, but made it clear in his statement that he wants to play beyond the collegiate level. He was once considered a potential lottery pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

“I’ve realized since high school that  the business of basketball waits for no one, and sometimes tough choices need to be made in order to progress,” Whitney wrote on Twitter. “I’ve worked extremely hard over the past several years to become an elite player, and now, as unconventional as it may seem, I must continue to do what I know is best for my future.”

No. 15 Kentucky currently boasts a 14-4 record and sits in second place in the SEC. The Wildcats are set to take on No. 18 Texas Tech on Saturday in Lubbock, part of the annual SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

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