Jack White is a pure basketballer. The 6’6″ athletic wing can drive to the basket, rebound in heavy traffic and defend as if there is no tomorrow. For White it is all about gaining experience as he looks to build on an impressive junior career and turn it into a professional one.
He has the tools and work ethic to be a major part of what is an exciting time for Australian basketball, both now and in the near future. White, an 18-year old guard/small forward, who hails from Traralgon, Victoria, has already represented his state and country, and even spent time in the NBL last season.
His next move is his most exciting step yet: Duke University. White has verbally committed to the Blue Devils for his college basketball career. Attending one of the most storied college basketball programs in history, and with Coach Mike Krzyzewski leading the way, White will have a tremendous opportunity to reach his full potential.
White has progressed through the Victoria Country program, and with the best coaches available to him, he has been able to take his game to a new level every year. White describes the program as an inspiring experience.
“Being from the country, I’ve always wanted to play for Victoria Country:” White continued, “There were some opportunities for me there; I had my first experience playing for Victoria Country when I was in Under 12s. It just inspired me to keep going after basketball.”
Since starting out in U12s, White has represented Victoria Country at the U16 and U18 levels.
The program has been able to consistently produce players of the highest calibre. White and fellow Victoria Country player George Blagojevic both represented Australia in the U19 FIBA World Championships in 2015. White was just grateful for the opportunity.
“It was a great experience, especially as a bottom age kid and having a bigger role than what I had playing in the Australia Under 17s team, it was definitely a lot of fun and we had a great bunch of guys that I love to play with.”
To say he played a larger role is an understatement, White was relied upon to keep the offence flowing, providing energy and athleticism. Playing in all 7 games, White averaged 7.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in almost 21 minutes of game time.
One might think that being a bottom age player on the world stage would be an intimidating experience, but Jack wasn’t fazed. He threw down dunks, and shot a very healthy 46% from the field. He credits those around him for allowing him to play his own game: “My teammates and the coaching staff did a good job of giving me confidence.”
It is clear that White feels an immense amount of pride in representing Australia and hopes to continue to do so in the future. “That’s always my number one thing,” White shares. “If there’s an opportunity to play for Australia then I’m going to try and jump at it and put the green and gold on again.”
The year 2015 was a busy and very successful one for White. Not only did he represent Australia, he continued to dominate at the national level as a crucial member of the gold medal winning Victorian team at the U20 Men’s National Championships.
The grand final against Tasmania was one for the ages, and White was huge down the stretch for Victoria as the game went to double overtime with Victoria eventually prevailing 105 to 104.
White poured in 21 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, along with 3 blocks and 2 assists. There is no doubt that without White, Victoria would’ve struggled to stay within striking distance in the first overtime period as Tasmania shot the lights out early. It was White who steadied his team to keep them in the game and help force the second overtime.
White reminisces about just how special the game was. “That game was crazy, [it was] probably one of the craziest games I’ve ever played in. They [Tasmania] bought it all, so did we, but they just kept making shots.”
White signed with the Cairns Taipans in mid January and was a member of the team for the remainder of the 2015-2016 NBL season.
He made his NBL debut against Melbourne United, playing just under 5 minutes. Although the Taipans went down by 30 points, White showed glimpses of what Australian basketball fans should get used to seeing over the next decade. He was thrilled to get the chance, but wasn’t satisfied with the one-sided result. “Obviously [debuting] was very exciting, it wasn’t quite the way I would’ve drawn it up losing by 30 points, but it was a fun experience.”
White went on to play 5 games during the season. Gaining valuable experience, building his skills and basketball knowledge while being surrounded by great players and coaches was what it was all about.
For all the accomplishments that Jack has taken in his stride throughout his junior years, it is what is in store over the next few months and years that is most exciting.
Division 1 colleges in the US came calling for White. Multiple offers were tabled and he completed visits in December to Temple, Hawaii and Boise State. Ultimately, White decided on Duke University in early March after a phone call from Coach K and a visit to the famous basketball college.
Duke boasts one of the best basketball programs in the U.S college system. With past players such as Grant Hill, Luol Deng, J.J. Redick, and more recently the likes of Kyrie Irving, Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor all spending time at Duke, it is clear the program can be a stepping stone to greatness.
When Duke first showed interest, it took some time for it to sink in for White. “I didn’t believe it at first to be honest, but once I knew they were serious about me and everything it felt pretty cool. In saying that, I just tried my best to think of them the same as I would any other school.”
Obviously, Coach K was a huge reason why White committed to Duke, and already in these early stages, the legendary coach has made an impact. “He’s just like a normal guy, very genuine, honest, and treats everyone equally and with respect…He doesn’t guarantee anything to anyone and said that there would simply be an opportunity for me.”
So what will White be focusing on improving as he looks to become an even more complete player at Duke? He understands that the work needs to continue in every facet of his game, but points to his shooting being key. “Just continually getting better at shooting the ball, I think that’s an area I can get better at. You can always find something to get better at.”
With expectations rising and playing in front of more fans, media and scouts, White has not set a ceiling for himself. “I believe in my own ability and how I go about things so I think I’ll be able to make an impact straight away.”
“All I want to do is win games and be known as a winner.”
It is this attitude and understanding that holds Jack White in good stead for the future. One thing is for sure, White has that work ethic that is synonymous with being brought up in the country and is bred tough to take on the world.