At times, Leaf Buckets 01 is bigheaded and flirts with receiving technical fouls or even ejections for confronting officials for what he always believes are bad calls.
His outbursts make the senior the center of attention, and seem like a crybaby who senselessly lives on the edge.
Leaf Buckets 01 and Wyatt intertwined at times last season, to Wyatt's detriment. (The nickname plays off his first name, his shooting prowess, and his jersey number.)
While celebrating his 21st birthday on June 10, he was arrested and charged with engaging in prostitution and resisting arrest in Atlantic City.
Wyatt also didn't start three games last season for disciplinary reasons.
The Norristown native said the arrest and those suspensions made him a better person. He realizes his mistakes can affect kids who may look to him as a role model.
"He's got to be the best citizen that he can be," coach Fran Dunphy said. "And he's a role model in a lot of ways to a lot of young people.
"So I think he's been good for the Norristown community. I think he's grown and people have appreciated who he is now."
The generous one
For as long as she can recall, Gail Clinkscales, a single mother of three, remembers her youngest child giving away his prized possessions.
"When he comes home, his [Temple] sneakers or [Temple] something, he gives them to the kids in the neighborhood," Clinkscales said. "Every year, I would be like, 'You are giving all of your stuff away.' He's been giving all of his stuff away for a long time. He would give away stuff that I bought for him, jerseys and this and that. Stuff that he shouldn't be giving away.
"He just wants everyone to be happy."
He plans to continue to make people happy long after his playing career is over. Wyatt, who is committed to being a public servant, is on pace to graduate in May with a degree in social work.
As part of his course work, he spends 16 hours a week as an intern at Our Brother's Place, a homeless shelter for men not far from campus.
"They just give them stuff they need," Wyatt said. "If they need drug and alcohol treatment, they look into getting them that. If they are not on any kind of public assistance or anything, they try to get them on that. And the overall goal is just trying to find them housing."
He'll tell you that working with young people is more enjoyable than scoring 30 points.
That's why Wyatt goes back to Norristown to speak to students at East Norriton Middle School, which he attended. He's also involved with the Greater Norristown Police Athletic League and has given youth basketball teams tours of the Liacouras Center, Temple's home arena.
"He is a very caring person," said Renee Goff, who was Wyatt's sixth-grade teacher at East Norriton. "He tells [current East Norriton students] it's very important to get their education and to try hard to be successful in high school. So they can go on to college and they can be an asset to their community."
Goff views Wyatt as more than just a former student who became a college basketball star. Wyatt had developed a close bond with the family. Renee and her husband, Dave, have attended Temple home games since Wyatt's freshman season.
Renee Goff recalled how, in the sixth grade, Wyatt promised her that she would read about him in the newspaper for his basketball exploits.
"He kept his promise. And I went to his high school graduation. And he's become a family friend. He talks to my children, He's become my children's friend."
Wyatt hasn't always followed his own advice. Last season, he was kept out of the starting lineup three times for disciplinary reasons. In December 2011, Wyatt was late for a film study. In February 2012, he showed up late to study hall. And in March 2012, he was late for a team meeting.
Then, while celebrating his 21st birthday on June 10, Wyatt was arrested and charged with engaging in prostitution and resisting arrest in connection with a prostitution sting in Atlantic City. He was fined $1,000 in Atlantic City Municipal Court and ordered to perform community service.
That arrest, and the publicity that came from it, was one of the lowest points of his life. He was humiliated because in his eyes he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wyatt doesn't like giving specifics about that night. But he does admit to learning a lesson.
"I mean, it can hurt you too," Wyatt said of hanging out. "My friends, they aren't knuckleheads or anything like that. They are in college. But they don't play college basketball. They didn't have as much to lose as I did."
His arrest affected more than just him. His sister, Terraz Clinkscales, his oldest sibling who at 38 is a parental figure to Wyatt, was embarrassed. His mother was past devastated.
"Was I hurt? I was like a baby," Gail Clinkscales recalled. "I couldn't get out of bed. . . . I was disappointed in him."
At that moment, Wyatt realized that as a basketball player he was held to a higher standard than most. It was also at that moment when he and his family really began to appreciate Fran Dunphy as a human being, not just as a coach.
Plenty of people were calling for Wyatt to be suspended. Dunphy refused to do so, saying "the embarrassment from the arrest was enough punishment."
Terraz Clinkscales recalled a conversation she had with Dunphy back when her brother was a senior at Norristown.
"He said, "When we recruited Khalif to come join our program, we didn't just look at him to take care of him when he did well. We look to take care of him when he does badly, too. And we will be there to support him.'
"He did that. He was there from the beginning to now," Clinkscales said.
Dunphy's support over the summer enabled Wyatt to focus on preparing for this season.
Wyatt is routinely the best player on the court no matter the competition. He leads the A-10 in scoring with an average of 19.7 points and has had outings of 33, 31, 34, and 35 points. Wyatt has been named A-10 player of the week three times, and Big Five player of the week four times.
His best games usually come on the biggest stage.
Wyatt scored 33 points in an 83-79 victory over Syracuse, ranked No. 3 at the time, at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 22. Then he dropped 26 points in a 69-62 setback at then-No. 6 Kansas on Jan. 6.
On Feb. 2, Wyatt made a career-best seven three-pointers on his way to 34 points in a 70-69 loss at St. Joseph's. And on Saturday, he scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the second half - including 5 of 6 three-pointers after intermission - of an 83-82 victory at Massachusetts.
"People can say an old-school game or whatever," Kansas coach Bill Self said of Wyatt's making slow-motion, off-balance shots. "I said earlier it's kind of an old man's game. He gets you off balance."
Said St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli: "You know, he just plays like a lot of you [media] guys play. You know you play three-on-three, that's really what he's doing. He's playing a three-on-three game as often as he can."
NBA long shot?
At least one NBA scout doesn't see Wyatt as an NBA prospect.
"He's not a very good defender," said the NBA draft analyst, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "The [shooting guard] and [a swingman] are the most athletic spots on an NBA floor. He's clearly not of an NBA athletic ability. He's got a little bit of a surly attitude, sometimes, on the court. One of those 'It's not my fault.' That's the negative column.
"The positive column is he knows how to score with almost like an old grizzled veteran's savvy. He knows how to take advantage of the mismatches."
The scout added that Wyatt's positives should get him invited to the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament, a predraft camp for college seniors in April.
But he said Wyatt's lack of athleticism outweighs his high basketball IQ.
"Dionte Christmas can't make the league and have staying power," the scout said, comparing Wyatt to the former Owl. "I think Christmas was a better shooter. Christmas was a better athlete. He was better in so many categories except basketball IQ.
"If that's the one thing a two-guard has to hang his hat on, it's probably not going to be enough, historically speaking."
Facing the critics
As a senior at Norristown, Wyatt averaged 20.5 points en route to leading the Eagles to their first District 1 Class AAA title since 1990.
However, only Temple, Delaware, and La Salle offered him a scholarship.
"Where we come from and where he's going, even if he doesn't go to the NBA, just getting his college degree is a big accomplishment," Terraz Clinkscales said. "So just going to the games and seeing what he's accomplished, we are just real proud of him."
That sentiment is shared by another sibling, Aziz Reed, who cried after his brother torched the Orange at the Garden.
Dunphy is confident in Wyatt's future, and that people will see Wyatt for the person he is, and not his alter ego.
"He is getting to be a quality person," the coach said. "And I think the full canvas has not been painted yet. I think you will see the real Khalif Wyatt in another five to 10 years. He will develop into a man that he will continue to become the best person and teammate and citizen and community leader that he can be."
Khalif Wyatt's Rise
He may have his doubters when it comes to NBA potential, but there's no doubt Khalif Wyatt has become a prolific college basketball player. Here is
a look at key per-game averages over four years:
2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
0.5 10.1 17.1 19.7
0.0 1.7 3.3 4.0
FIELD GOALS MADE
0.2 3.2 5.2 6.0
FIELD GOALS ATTEMPTED
1.1 6.9 10.9 14.0
0.1 1.4 1.7 2.3
0.0 3.0 5.8 6.5
Source: ESPN.com - Gary Potosky
Contact Keith Pompey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock.