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Missouri junior has big upside

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MORE: Class of 2015 Rivals150
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- All year long, four-star junior combo guard Jimmy Whitt has been putting up big numbers for Columbia (Mo.) Hickman. Friday night was senior night against an overmatched Eldon (Mo.) High, so Whitt took a backseat to his older teammates, but still managed to show his talent.
Currently ranked No. 79 in the 2015 Rivals150, the 6-foot-2, 165-pounder has averaged just over 23 points per game during the season. Whitt didn't enter the game until 1:40 was left in the first quarter and he only played a little over 16 minutes -- of which the last five was running clock -- while racking up 19 points, seven steals, five rebounds and four assists.
Given that the game was never in doubt, there wasn't a lot to learn about the junior in the 96-30 win. But, his length, athleticism and natural playmaking ability are plenty evident. So is his much improved athleticism.
"I think a lot of it is work in the gym," Whitt told Rivals.com after the win. "I like to get in the gym and work on my game and making strong moves to the basket. I like to get to the hole and to spots for the mid-range jump shot.
"My athleticism really allows me to do a lot more things defensively and offensively and make more aggressive moves."
Whitt's go-to weapon on the offensive end of the floor is the mid-range pull-up jumper. He gets to the spots he wants to on the floor, uses his long arms and quick hands defensively. During the summer with Kansas City Run GMC he plays off the ball but says that he's spent the lion's share of his junior minutes at the point and that's where he sees himself down the road.
"I'm working more on being a point guard," said Whitt. "I'm working on getting my teammates in the right places, making nice crisp passes and taking it to the next level. I'm really comfortable playing the point at the high school level.
"Colleges just want to get me on the floor. They know that I can make plays from the two and the one, but a lot of them type wise are looking for me to play the one."
Speaking of college, Whitt has no shortage of interest. He currently has offers from Arkansas, Creighton, Colorado, Kansas State, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, San Francisco, SMU and Tulsa. Kansas, Illinois, Northwestern and Vanderbilt have also been in to see him and he's been on the campuses of Mizzou, Arkansas, K-State and Oklahoma.
Not surprisingly, Whitt is starting to feel some local pressure to stay home and play for Frank Haith and the Tigers.
"There's a lot of people that want me to stay home," said Whitt. "It would be cool because I'd get to play in front of my parents and everything so that's always something to think about."
Whitt also has ties to Arkansas because his family is longtime friends with the coaching staff that spent several years in Columbia.
"They are recruiting me like they would any other player," said Whitt of Arkansas. "They have said I'm one of their top recruits and that they really want to get me. Just because my parents have been friends with them they aren't going to treat me any different."
With a rather long school list, Whitt understands that he needs to eventually make some cuts. Right now, though, he's focused on getting Hickman back to the Final Four and finishing with a state title. After some rest, he'll hit the grassroots circuit and is thinking he'll cut things down after the summer dies down.
"I'm probably going to cut it down after the summer," said Whitt. "I'll probably try to narrow it down to five and take my visits. I'm looking for a team that wants to get up and down because that's my style."
Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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