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Hickman basketball's Jimmy Whitt includes Missouri in top nine

Thursday, July 31, 2014 | 8:10 p.m. CDT; updated 8:07 a.m. CDT, Friday, August 1, 2014
Hickman point guard and shooting guard Jimmy Whitt is one of the school's leading scorers. Despite his junior standing, Whitt received scholarship offers from 12 colleges including Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas State.

*CORRECTION: Jimmy Whitt's teammates were from the Amateur Athletic Union. An earlier version of this story misidentified where those teammates were from.

COLUMBIA — Although the future is bright for Hickman High School hoops star Jimmy Whitt, it's also blurry.

The 6-foot-3 rising senior who helped lead the Kewpies to the Class 5 State Championship game last season has received 22 offers from Division I colleges to play basketball.

On Wednesday, Whitt's future came more into focus after he narrowed the list of potential college destinations to nine schools, including his hometown university, Missouri. 

California, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Arkansas, Marquette, SMU and Illinois round out Whitt's potential programs.

Whitt said he cut down his list of colleges by talking to several of his Amateur Athletic Union* teammates from KC Pump N Run.

"Those are some of the guys I've been growing up with since day one," Whitt said. "We all had a real in-depth conversation about where we saw each other going (to college)."

Whitt said he didn't know which college he'd end up at but he knew which qualities he wanted the school to have.

"I want to go somewhere that my strengths will shine the most, and I feel like I can make an impact at these nine schools," he said.

Whitt said he wants to play for a coach who can help him continue to play past the college level. He prefers a coach who runs an up-tempo system that is guard-oriented and utilizes ball screens.

"My strengths are being able to get up and down the court. Use my length and speed to get easy transition baskets. Come off ball screens, and just make plays," Whitt said. "Every coach has their own system, and being able to imagine where you fit best is the hardest thing."

Wherever Whitt winds up, Evan Daniels, a national recruiting analyst for Scout.com, said his style of play will excel. The website ranks Whitt as the No. 50 player in the country in his class.

"He can be molded to fit whatever system his school plays," Daniels said. "He's a very talented combo guard with a scorer's mentality and can score from anywhere on the floor."

Daniels added, "He's also an underrated passer."

Daniels isn't the only scout who believes Whitt is a big-time prospect, as he is ranked
No. 52 by Rivals and No. 64 by ESPN 100. 

But Whitt doesn't just want a school that develops his athletic skill; he wants one with a passionate and loyal fan base.

"What's huge is that people love basketball, and you'll always have support through your ups and your downs," he said. 

Whitt said that when he chooses his university, proximity won't be a huge factor.

"Schools like Cal and Marquette, it's cool because they're far away from home and you'll be able to do your own thing," Whitt said. "At the same time, schools like Mizzou, Illinois, Arkansas, they're close to home. It's just two different ways of viewing it."

But that doesn't mean Missouri is out of the picture, even with the departure of Frank Haith.

"The new coaching staff contacted me the second they came in, and we've been growing a real good relationship," Whitt said.

Whitt said he's had conversations with new head coach Kim Anderson and assistant coaches Brad Loos and Tim Fuller. Whitt has also developed a camaraderie with the players by participating in pickup games. After growing up in Columbia, Whitt said, being able to play in his hometown will be on his mind.

"Being able to grow up around the community who all know me and show me support, and then to take it to the college level and get the same support from the same fan base is really something to think about," he said.

Whitt also included Arkansas in his narrowed-down list. Whitt and his family have been close with Melvin Watkins, an associate head coach for the Razorbacks. Watkins was an assistant coach for Missouri from 2004 to 2011 before leaving with former Tigers head coach Mike Anderson.

Whitt is also good friends with Watkins' son, Manuale, who is a rising sophomore on Arkansas' basketball team.

"He's like one of my best friends," Whitt said of Manuale Watkins. "I think the relationship will have an impact because I'm familiar with them."

Whitt plans to have conversations with all nine head coaches from the schools on his list before deciding where he'll make his five visits.

"You don't really know where you want to go until you see the school when the students are there, hang out with the players and coaches and see if you fit in," he said.

Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.


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