Jimmy Whitt has been consistent on both sides of the floor this season. The graduate senior is currently averaging over 15 points per game, third best on the team. But it’s his defense that he’s most proud of.
Whitt says, “defense is a combination of skill but mostly effort and pride in it.” Adding, “Obviously offensively I’m going to try and make plays where I can,” says Whitt. “But that’s not what my game is predicated on. That’s not the biggest role I play for this team. I think the biggest role is defense.”
Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman agrees with Whitt, recently calling him an NBA caliber defender. Whitt says getting that compliment is a huge confidence boost. But he doesn’t take it lightly.
“Once he says it you’ve got to go out there and prove it each and every day now,” says Whitt. “That’s extra motivation for me because for him to go out there and publicly say that that means I’ve got to come out there each and every night for the rest of these games and play the best defense I can play.”
Musselman also noted how Whitt enjoys the challenge of taking on the opposing teams best player. Saying, “he takes that as a challenge. Some guys hide from it. When you bring your team together and say who wants to guard (Desmond) Bane, his is the first hand up.”
Whitt is also known for his consistent mid-range shot, where he’s shooting 53 percent. As for three pointers? Whitt has only attempted one so far this season. Musselman says that’s because Whitt knows his role.
“I never have to tell Jimmy to stop shooting threes,” says Musselman. “He knows not to shoot threes. And the maturity of his game to be able to do that is amazing.”
Whitt agrees with his coach. Saying, “The biggest thing is a lot of guys come in here and they listen to people telling them you’ve got to do this you’ve got to do that. But I think if you go out there and you know your game well and you play to your strengths and you get to the spots you’re great in you can really be successful. I think it shows in the way I play and being able to get to my spots I know I can be really efficient from.”
Now in his last year of eligibility, Whitt has his sights set on making it to the NBA. Musselman, a former NBA coach himself, says coaches should be looking for players like Whitt.
“I truly think if you’re an NBA coach you would want a guy that practices hard every day. A guy that can defend and does one thing really special and he does that. And he’s a great locker room guy.”