Paul White is a 6'-7" small forward from Whitney Young High School in the Chicago Public League. He is an extremely skilled and versatile player who can do a variety of things on the floor to affect the game. The class of 2014 star is mature on and off the court. Colleges have taken notice; Illinois has already offered White a scholarship.
White likes what he sees out of the home state school.
"I like how they let their players play. They utilize their players real well and all their strengths."
Assistant coach Jerrance Howard has been a major force in the Illini's effort in Chicago recruiting over the last several years, and he is White's lead recruiter. The two have built a good relationship.
"Jerrance is real cool. Every time I see him, I say 'What's up?' to him. He acts likes he is not really a recruiter. He just sits down and has a casual conversation like he is your friend."
White is taking the recruiting process in stride and has not been too involved in it yet.
"Illinois gave me a scholarship. So far I'm not really sure. It has all been a blur. There is a lot of mail stacking up. I just hand it to my mom and sometimes don't even look at the names."
He says he is letting the mail pile up, and when the time is right he will jump into the decision-making process.
"I'm not going to really pay attention to that until this summer or my sophomore year."
The Illini have been aggressive when offering elite prospects at a young age over the past several years. White is one of those prospects Illinois has identified and offered.
"It was before the season. I was pretty surprised because I remember going out for lunch with my coach, and he said, 'You got an offer from Illinois.' I was like, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'They offered you a full scholarship.' I was like, 'Wow!' My first question was about Jahlil (Okafor). I always care about him."
Okafor has also received a scholarship offer from the Big 10 school. Illinois fans would love to see the pair in Orange and Blue. The two have only begun preliminary discussions about possibly playing together in college.
"Yeah we would love that, but us just being freshman, we haven't really sat down and talked about it. We joke about how it would be if we ended up at the same college."
They are good friends on and off the court, and their games mesh well together at Whitney Young.
"It was fun rooting for him when I was on the bench and him rooting for me while he was on the bench. Bringing that vibe we have from the summer into the program helped, especially on the sophomore level where we worked so well together. We know which spots to go to and where to get each other the ball."
White came off the bench and played limited minutes for a talented Dolphins varsity team. He and Okafor teamed up to win a championship on the sophomore level. The small forward discussed his freshman season.
"It was pretty successful. On the sophomore level, we won city. On the varsity level, we lost the city championship and didn't come close to state. Our goal was to get downstate. We came up a little short, but in my eyes it was pretty successful, and I have three more years to go."
White described his game.
"Some people label me as a small forward. I can rebound, push the ball and do whatever they want. At Whitney Young, they had me playing a little point guard during the season. My coach has been calling me a point forward throughout the whole year."
White enjoyed playing that role as prescribed by his coach Tyrone Slaughter.
"It is real fun, especially on the varsity level. Playing point and selecting where the team has to go, especially at the City of Palms, he had me playing point and I was pretty successful down there."
He described the strengths in his game.
"My mid-range game. I can dribble well in transition and react to a lot of people's actions."
On the AAU circuit, White will be playing with Ferrari on the 15 and Under level this spring and summer. They kicked off their season at the Illinois Spotlite Tournament.
"It has been fun to get back on the court with these guys after a whole year of high school and seeing how everybody developed. We can take what everyone put into their high school team and put it all into this team. It is fun to see."
There is a lot to like in White's game. His size and length are intriguing for a prospect at such a young age. He showed in the opening weekend of the AAU season he has good ball handling skills including a move where he went in and out of the defense for the a basket.
Another aspect that stood out was his vision and passing skills, especially in transition. His jump shot is silky smooth and has the potential to become a dominant weapon.
Although White is taking his recruitment slow, it will surely pick up with his play on the AAU circuit this spring and summer. Illinois is in the driver's seat at this point, but other high majors will be hot on his trail soon. White ranks as one of the top five prospects in the state of Illinois's class of 2014 and is a potential five-star nationally.