Louisiana was home to Malcolm White for 18 years before he uprooted and spent three years in Mississippi. Now, the former Ole Miss standout basketball player can call Louisiana home again.
“I signed with LSU and I’m going back home,” White said.
White, who signed his official scholarship papers with LSU on Tuesday, spent two seasons at Ole Miss after inking with the Rebels in the late signing period in 2007.
The 6-foot-10, 217-pound White got plenty of action playing in the post for the Rebels. As a true freshman he played in 26 games and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 6.7 minutes per game.
With a terrific offseason, White blossomed and earned a starting role for Ole Miss in the 2008-09 campaign. In 31 games – 27 starts – he averaged 7.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 24.7 minutes of action a contest.
White’s presence in the middle was particularly felt on the defensive end where he blocked a team-high 43 shots, which was the most ever by an Ole Miss sophomore and good for 10th all-time in the school’s record books.
White was originally slated to enroll in college a year earlier after enjoying a stellar career at St. Helena Central High School in Greensburg, La. He was named the 2005-‘06 District 8-2A Player of the Year and was a Class 2A All-State performer after averaging 28 points and 16 rebounds as a senior. He set several school records for head coach Lester Jenkins and still holds the record for blocks and rebounds in a game with 18 and 22, respectively.
The numbers that he posted at St. Helena Central attracted interest from several major programs. White landed offers from Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, Georgia and USC, but one obvious school was missing from that list.
“I used to watch Stromile Swift, Brandon Bass and all of those guys, but I moved on,” White said. “I knew I had other offers from good schools and I just thought that coach (John Brady) had the guys he needed. LSU wasn’t my first choice back then, though, because I wanted to get away and see some other places. So there never were any hard feelings.”
White, who was ranked the No. 89 player in the country by Scout.com for the 2006 class, had to make one more stop before taking his game to the next level and his destination was Genesis One Christian Prep School in Mendenhall, Miss.
During his time at Genesis One Christian, White helped lead his squad to a national runner-up finish in the 2006-‘07 season and averaged 15 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks a game.
While at Genesis One, it was once again time for the schools to come calling and White, who reported offers from Arizona, Kentucky, Florida State, Georgia and Ole Miss, took visits to LSU, Wake Forest, USC and Ole Miss before deciding on the Rebels.
After spending two years in Oxford, White said it was just time for him to return home, and that was the major factor in his decision to transfer.
“I just really wanted to come home,” he said. “There are no hard feelings with anyone at Ole Miss and I enjoyed my time there. It was understandable with the coaches that I wanted to finish my career at home.”
White considered several schools when he was granted his release from Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy including Florida, Arkansas, South Alabama and even Arkansas State – the school that John Brady now coaches at.
When White went through the recruiting process each time before he signed with Ole Miss he was recruited by Brady. This time around it was Trent Johnson who was pursuing the talented big man, and White says there was a different feel for LSU this time around.
“I knew that coach Johnson was a good coach and his team played an all-around game,” White said. “He understood how a big man was supposed to play. It was nothing against coach Brady. I just feel real comfortable with coach Johnson and his staff.”
White got a good look at the Tigers under Brady during his freshman season when he scored a season-high 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 74-71 victory over LSU. He also got an up close and personal look at Johnson’s version in the Rebels’ two losses this past season where White averaged eight points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot in his two matchups with LSU.
“Since I’ve been following LSU they’ve always played hard defense, but the difference is coach Johnson,” White explained. “He has a real passion for the game. The players really respect him and they go all out for him. In getting to know him I can tell that he cares a lot about his players on and off the court, and that was important to me.”
The turnaround under Johnson played a role in White’s decision, but he admits that there was more than just the headman that led him back to Louisiana.
“I have a lot of family in Louisiana and they can come and support me now,” he said. “I can come home and represent Louisiana.
“The program is a championship quality program and all of the success it’s had in the past with Shaquille O’Neal, Stromile Swift, and all of those guys is attractive to anyone from Louisiana,” added White. “Coach Johnson won an SEC championship the first year he was there so the program is going to get even stronger.”
White will finish the spring semester at Ole Miss before heading back to the Bayou State then he will have to sit out a year before he can suit up for the Tigers. He will use the 2009-‘10 season as his redshirt year and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
While he may not be able to play for LSU in Johnson’s second year, White still plans to do his part in helping the Tigers defend their regular season conference championship.
“I’m going to be able to practice and my goal is to come in and work hard everyday and try to be a leader,” White said. “It will be tough sitting out, but it’s a step I have to take in getting where I want to be. I might not be able to play in games, but I can still practice and help make my teammates better.”
And when he can finally take the floor for LSU in the 2010-’11 campaign White plans to be much better than the player he was the last time he stepped onto the court in an SEC game.
“I’ll be able to spend a lot of time working out and getting my body where I really want it and get an NBA body,” he said. “I’ll hit the weights hard and practice hard, then when my time does come I’ll be so much better than I am now.”