Ekuban was making his first start for Leeds since August in Thomas Christiansen's side's trip to Oakwell, having spent much of the previous months on the sidelines with injury and making just a couple of substitute appearances in recent times.
The forward replaced Kemar Roofe against the Tykes. And although he did not get onto the scoresheet, he gave the Leeds supporters a real glimpse of his quality, making a key impact to help Leeds secure a 2-0 win that gets their play-off push back on track after their disappointing defeat to Wolves in midweek.
And Whelan was full of praise for the 23-year-old, insisting that it was an incredibly encouraging display given that he has not started a game in over three months.
"He's still getting his fitness and sharpness back. He did everything you'd want from your striker. He held the ball up when he could, he brought other people into play, but, more importantly, he worked and worked and worked tirelessly to close people down, to win the ball back for Leeds United."
Ekuban did miss a great chance to put the game beyond doubt in the second-half, but his clever movement arguably helped Samuel Saiz as it often left him the kind of space that allowed him the opportunity to punish Barnsley - and he certainly took advantage.
And Christiansen will be hoping that his partnership with Saiz continues to blossom when Ekuban starts in future as it appears - based on the Barnsley result - that they could be a great pairing for the Whites.