Boys Basketball: Kenyatta Whiteside displaying versatility for Groveport Madison Cruisers

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Kenyatta Whiteside has played all positions except point guard for the Groveport boys basketball team. The junior was averaging 11.6 points through seven games.

Kenyatta Whiteside wouldn’t change anything about his role for the Groveport Madison boys basketball team, even as he acknowledged what he calls the “challenge” of playing as many as four positions. 

The 6-foot-3 junior is listed as both a guard and forward, and while Whiteside is as comfortable shooting from three feet as from 3-point range, his size means he often is assigned to guard or compete against opposing forwards and centers. 

Whiteside averaged 11.6 points through seven games for the Cruisers, who were 2-5 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Reynoldsburg on Jan. 22. He also has become a rebounding presence, having recorded nine in a 41-35 win at Lancaster on Jan. 12, and his play has helped create mismatches benefiting his teammates. 

“Getting down and dirty, getting rebounds, getting the ball, pushing it up and looking to score more,” Whiteside said in describing his role. “I thought I would be doing this. It can be a challenge, though, playing so many different spots on the floor. It’s a lot of responsibility and I take a lot of pride in doing my job well.” 

Whiteside dressed varsity as a sophomore but did not see much playing time until the second half of the season. He scored a total of 72 points, including 16 in a win over Franklin Heights and had three double-digit scoring games down the stretch. 

“Kenyatta helps us in so many ways,” coach Lamont Hampton said. “He rebounds. He plays big. He plays guard. He’ll play out of position. He plays wherever we need him to play. He’s really a wing and he can shoot the ball like a two-guard, but since he’s one of our biggest and strongest guys he’s usually guarding (centers and power forwards) a lot. He doesn’t complain. He does whatever we need him to do to help this team win.” 

Whiteside has played every position except point guard this season, but even that was a spot he filled at lower levels. 

“He’s a great player for us because of his ambition and his drive. Kenyatta is the player you can always expect to do the dirty work,” teammate Marlon Elliott Jr. said. “He’ll always rebound. He’ll always give his best effort. He’ll always look to score and put his team in the best position possible.” 

Whiteside opened Jan. 2 with a 16-point outing in a 75-69 loss at Harvest Prep. Nine of those points came in the second half, when the Warriors shut out leading scorer Scotty Lomax and outscored the Cruisers 39-32 after the break in a comeback win. 

Three nights later, Whiteside had 11 points and six rebounds in a 67-48 win at Logan. 

His scoring average through seven games was second on the team to Lomax’s 16.6 points. 

“(Whiteside) has always been a good shooter,” Hampton said. “He hit big shots last year. He’s been able to score. He averaged 28 or 29 (points) as a freshman. He takes good shots. He’s very efficient.” 

While Whiteside said this is the role he expected, he also expressed eagerness to grow and contribute even more. 

“Sometimes playing in the middle can be uncomfortable with guys who are a lot taller than me, but it’s made me better,” Whiteside said. “I can go wherever my team needs me.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekDave