Although 6-3 freshman teammate Janelle Bailey, who has Division I potential, did cause me to look twice to confirm, White has a demeanor and skill set that shines bright. Her accomplishments on the court have led to her being named the #1 power forward in the country and the #7 ranked overall recruit in this year's class, and Gamecock nation will be even more pleased with the character and class that the young lady will bring to Columbia.
Although she also participated in volleyball and track as a youngster, it was a day when she visited the old Charlotte Hornets arena that got her dreaming about a future in hoops. "I just remember looking around and wondering how cool it would be if I could play basketball in front of that many people", White said. She will get her chance, as the South Carolina women's basketball team continues to boost its attendance with a nationally competitive squad and a top 10 ranking. The comfort level White's family felt with Coach Staley, the proximity to home, and the potential to compete for an SEC championship led to her signing with the Gamecocks.
Jatarie White has been showered with local and national media attention since emerging as a star the past couple of years, but her relationship with her teammates and genuine love for the game, make it clear that she is just one of the girls. In studying her practice and game action, she never expressed negativity, she always encouraged teammates, and she plays within the system although certainly showing the ability to take over on call.
In a recent loss to a strong Northwood team from Charleston, SC on Monday night in Charlotte, her unselfish play in the first half may have been what cost her team the game, unfortunately. Providence Day School Head Coach Josh Springer clearly made the adjustment to feed White early on in the 2nd half, when her team was struggling offensively, and White responded with four "old school" 3-point plays and a game high 30 points in the loss. Springer said, "Her basketball IQ, consistency, leadership, and defensive discipline are definitely the biggest improvements in her game". White, a lefty, undoubtedly has the mechanics and deft touch that few girls her height display in the entire country. She has a rare combination of grace and physicality, and her power dribble is extremely controlled and effective inside. From the foul line, it is a rare sight that the ball doesn't swish through the net from a perfectly arched release.
One of White's toughest tasks, on top of aiming for another state championship, is perhaps helping South Carolina land the nation's #1 overall recruit in Heathwood Hall School's (Columbia, SC) A'Ja Wilson. White insists she is doing all the convincing in her power, but also understands Wilson is being touted by college basketball's most storied programs just as she was. Wilson, standing nearly 6-5, is surprisingly more of a thrashing style player and is quite advanced off the dribble. She also has tremendous length and athleticism that would surely make the Gamecocks one of the most dangerous front courts in women's basketball if South Carolina could round out their class with her.
After their senior seasons conclude, the expectations for White, and Wilson, will only grow, as the national media will have plenty of coverage, highlighted by the infamous McDonald's All-American Game that both plan to compete in. White has lofty goals for herself and her team when she arrives on campus at South Carolina, and in addition to her skill set, confidence, and work ethic, she assures she has the toughness and fight to battle for an SEC title. Wilson could make that road easier.
Future Gamecock Jatarie White will be a star
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