LITTLE ROCK - After putting on a spectacular 42-point show in Northwest Arkansas back in November, Razorback basketball signee Jimmy Whitt brought his talent to Central Arkansas on Thursday,
Whitt had 16 points, but Team Tennessee thumped Team Arkansas 104-76 Thursday night at Little Rock Hall in the Michael Conley, Jr., All-Star Classic.
"It was just a fun experience to come out here with a lot of elite talent and get up and down the court," Whitt said.
North Little Rock star and Florida commit KeVaughn Allen added 11 points while Ole Miss signee Terrance Davis led the Tennessee squad with 27 points.
Allen noted that he remains committed to Florida and plans to sign with the Gators later this month.
"I think he (Allen) is pretty much going to Florida," Whitt said. "I don't think anybody could talk him out of it.
"...It was fun seeing how these guys that you play with during the summer and knowing you are going to the same conference."
Whitt, the 55th-best player nationally per Scout .com, averaged 30.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.1 steals and 3.9 assists this past season for Columbia, Mo., Hickman this past season.
He is anxious to arrive in Fayetteville on May 25th, when he will enroll in summer school classes at Arkansas just three days after graduating high school.
“After your last high school basketball game, the next step is college basketball and that starts running through your mind the second you play your last high school game,” Whitt said. “That has been running through my mind ever since.
“I have been just trying to prepare for next year and do whatever I can this summer for the upcoming season.”
He is obviously excited about joining a program that finished 27-9 last season, was a regular in the Top 25 rankings and made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament after a seven-year absence.
The Razorbacks, who finished second to Kentucky in both the SEC regular season race and post-season tournament, beat Wofford before falling to North Carolina in the Big Dance.
“I was really proud of just watching my guys out there do what they do,” Whitt said. “They lost a tough game to North Carolina, but it was game that they could have pulled out.
“I was proud of them for what they did throughout the season and just looking forward to playing with them in the future. Just looking at their core group of guys and how possibly everybody could come back, I think that would be really cool for me to step in and play with such a good group of guys.
“They know what it takes to get to that level, how to win those tough games, so I am just going in there and using it as a learning experience for them to teach me a couple of things that I need to do better, to work on so I can help the team be successful.”
?Arkansas will obviously be a much better team next season if both sophomore forward Bobby Portis and junior guard Michael Qualls - the league’s highest-scoring duo - stay in college.
“I think the sky is the limit for us with two leaders like Mike and Bobby with Bobby being the SEC Player of the Year and Mike doing what he did coming down toward the end of the season and throughout the season,” Whitt said.
“Those are two really big pieces and with two leaders like that, I think the sky is the limit with me and (Huntington Prep power forward) Ted (Kapita) coming in.
“I feel like we are two very capable players and I think with two very capable leaders they will be able to teach us a lot and show us how things should go. I just feel like we can be very successful.”
Whitt has let both know he would love to play alongside them next season.
“I’ve tried, but I think it really comes down to what people want to do,” Whitt said. “I let people do their own thing, but I would definitely be really happy if they came back.”
Whitt was described as an elite level guard by Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson.
“I think that I can create, whether it is for myself scoring-wise or getting other teammates the ball,” Whitt said. “I think I am very good creating with the ball in my hands and I think that is going to be my best aspect, being able to create plays for myself or my teammates.”
Arkansas and Hickman play similar styles.
“That’s how we played, trapped all over the court and we wanted to play a fast-paced game,” Whitt said. “Being able to watch Arkansas throughout the season, I can really see myself fitting in just how they play - the aggressiveness on defense, trying to force teams into turnovers, maybe not get steals but forcing a faster pace of play fits me very well.”
Whitt makes it clear that he is coming to help, not just watch.
“The biggest expectation for me is to be able to come in as a freshman and contribute to the team,” Whitt said. “I don’t want to be a player that just goes in and doesn’t contribute much or just sits on the bench.
“I want to come in and contribute to a team, to contribute to success with a team, to be able to be out on the court and I know that is going to take hard work in this offseason for me to be able to get myself there - be it skill-wise or strength-wise, conditioning or just being able to get my body in shape and get the mental aspect, too.
“I know the transition from high school to college, it is a really different game and you come from being a guy that is one of the best ever at your high school to a place where everybody was the best.
“I just want to be able to fit into that and just be able to play to my potential.”
Whitt was warmly received by the crowd at Little Rock Hall on Thursday night.
“It is a really cool feeling to be able and get up here again,” Whitt said. “I came down here during my season and we were able to play game at Bentonville for that Shootout.
“Just to be able to come here again for an all-star game is a fun feeling, a fun game, a fun experience. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing with the transition from high school to college.”
Whitt Anxious To Get To Arkansas
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