Whitt Having Spectacular Senior Season
It was just another night at the office for Arkansas basketball signee and Columbia, Mo., Hickman superstar Jimmy Whitt on Tuesday night.
The 6-4, 170-pound Whitt scored 41 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, had 7 steals and dished out 6 assists in what turned into a 73-65 loss to Jefferson City.
That means that Whitt – averaging 32.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 4.2 steals per game this season – scored on had a hand in all but nine of his team’s points in the game.
The amazing thing is that that Whitt – who is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range – did not have a 3-pointer in the contest.
“I’m really running out of ways to describe Jimmy,” Kewpies head coach David Johnson said. “Spectacular, amazing, stat-sheet stuffer, shut down defender, holds the school records for everything, best player in the state and on and on and on.”
Whitt – the only returning starter from a Hickman team that lost in the state championship game, has had 10 games of over 40 points this season and had numerous double-digit outings in terms of steals, assists and rebound.
“He’s been our leading scorer since he first began starting in the ninth grade, but he has had to absolutely carry us in that regard this season because we lost six seniors,” Johnson said. “He’s not really getting much help at all, but you would never know it with his attitude.
“He has been great with our young guys – including our two sophomores we are starting – and he never lets the frustration get to him,” Johnson added. “He is such an even keel guy and such a great leader.”
Whitt is a four-star prospect and the 55th-best prospect in the country per Scout.com and joins Huntington, W.V. Prep power forward Ted Kapita (6-9, 220) - who committed to Arkansas on Thursday - and 6-4 Texas Tech transfer Dusty Hannahs as the three additions Arkansas will add to next year's roster.
He could very well step for Razorback head coach Mike Anderson and take over the shooting guard spot currently held by Arkansas senior Rashad Madden.
“I have no doubt that he is going to come in and have a big impact right away for Arkansas,” Johnson said. “He is just a perfect fit for Coach Anderson’s system in that he can get it done both offensively and defensively, is a fantastic athlete, but also has a high basketball IQ and is just a fantastic basketball player overall that can play in any situation or type of game.”
Whitt’s defensive ability and his willingness to play as hard on defense and his does on offense is rare in a high school superstar.
“Here is a kid that is going to go out and night and in night out give you 30 to 40 points, rebound the ball, dish out his fair share of assists and give you everything you could every want offensively,” Johnson said.
“But the difference is that he wants to guard the other team’s best player every night and he wants to shut him down,” Johnson added. “He’ll go get his 30 or 40 and their best player will have 10 or not even get into double figures.”
Whitt chose Arkansas over hometown Missouri, Illinois, Butler, Marquette and a host of other schools.
That could have led to him being booed and rode hard by opposing fans this season, but that hasn’t happened according to Johnson.
“I think that has a lot to do with the kind of young man that Jimmy is, how he carries himself, the character that he has and how he does not in any way show up his opponent,” Johnson said.
“I’ve seen that happen before – where kids are just ridiculed for going elsewhere, but I think everybody gets it around here,” Johnson added. “He has such respect that it just doesn’t happen.”
Hickman’s record dropped to 13-8 with the loss on Tuesday and has four regular season games before heading into district play and hopefully sectionals as it has the last three years.
The Kewpies started 12-3 and have lost 5 of 6, but the win was over CBC, the same team that downed Hickman in the state championship game last season.
“We are definitely not as strong as we have been in the past, but we have Jimmy,” Johnson said. “And when you have Jimmy you have a chance every night because he really is one of those players that can lift a team on his back and will it to a win.
“He is going to rise to the occasion in the biggest games,” Johnson added. “He is The Man. It is just that simple.”
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