A few weeks ago, one of my friends asked me how Khalif Wyatt plays.
He doesn’t play an “old man’s game”. He’s too crafty, too aggressive, and too quick in his own way.
He doesn’t play a “young man’s game”. He’s too methodical and thoughtful.
He isn’t a shooter. He’s too good at getting to the basket and getting teammates involved.
He’s not Derrick Rose.
He doesn’t hoop like Chris Paul.
Khalif plays like… Khalif.
His unique game was last on national display in the States during the 2013 NCAA tournament, when he dropped 31 on North Carolina State University and then again on number one seeded Indiana University. But Khalif has not disappeared.
Despite playing with their summer league team, Khalif was unable to make the Sixers’ roster after his senior season at Temple. He moved on to the Chinese Basketball League (CBA) and played on a one year contract for the Guangdong Southern Tigers. He averaged 14.6 points per game and nearly 5 assists, but was let go and replaced by former NBA player Royal Ivey during the middle of the season.
He didn’t seem too upset about it. “China is a lot of 1-on-1 basketball,” he noted.
However, the move to get rid of Khalif baffled many Guangdong faithful because of his success with the team. The Southern Tigers failed to make the CBA’s championship for the first time in twelve years. In the meantime, Khalif returned home and headed for the D-League to play with the Springfield Armor.
He averaged 16 points per game and shot 41% from three in 20 games.
But the Norristown native did not stick around for long. He joined Hapoel Eilat in the Israeli Winners League for the 2014-15 season. And Khalif kept doing Khalif.
He averaged 15 points, 4 assists, and 1 steal in 27 minutes of play per game. He also led his team to the championship, but lost. On the way, they beat the number one seeded Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, who was 26-7 in the regular season. The journey was an impressive accomplishment.
“[My] favorite moment of this past season was helping my [team] defeat Maccabi Tel Aviv in the semifinals,” Khalif said. “We beat them 3 straight times [in the playoffs] when nobody expected we could.”
In addition, Khalif enjoyed Israel as a place.
“The people in Israel were really nice and they had a lot of American food. And I liked that just about everybody spoke English.”
The 24-year-old also talked about how the basketball in Israel was better than China.
“Israel is more 5-on-5 [basketball].”
So maybe Khalif has found his home?
Or maybe not. He quickly denied any speculations about where he will be playing this upcoming season.
“[I’m] not sure where I am playing next year yet.”
Andrew Albert, a writer for philly.com, wrote that Khalif has many offers from other European teams in a recent article.
However, regardless of where he goes, Khalif Wyatt will continue to play like Khalif Wyatt. He will always hoop to his own beat and continue to make Temple proud.
Picture courtesy of www.yoamingmania.com
-Temple loses to Penn State in the first round of the NIT tournament