Spring brings warmer weather, flowers, and dastardly pollen.
But it also ushers in one of the biggest sporting events we have in NCAA basketball tournaments, March Madness.
College basketball transforms players into heroes and immortals over time. Central Christian Head basketball coach John White can attest to this firsthand.
Coach White grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and attended Ballard High School. He led Ballard to a 61-9 record in his final two seasons and was the seventh all-time leading scorer as a 1984 player. He has good range on his shot, runs well and is a good passer. He understands the game as well as anyone.
Regularly, Coach White would play basketball games at Rupp Arena in Kentucky and Freedom Hall in Louisville in front of rabid high school basketball fans. He said, “I tell the kids now, you’ll never understand what it is until you do it.”
After high school, offers pour in from everywhere. Louisville, Purdue, Missouri, Tennessee-Chattanooga and Morehead State, to name a few. Coach White moved to the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
At Southern Miss, he played for fellow Kentucky native MK Turk. Coach White described their time in Hattiesburg as filled with “lots of ups and lots of downs”, but in 1987 they caught lightning in a bottle and won the National Invitational Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York .
The NCAA Tournament was much smaller back then; the NIT was much more prestigious. Southern Miss beat Ole Miss, St. Louis, Vanderbilt, Nebraska and LaSalle to claim the crown. Coach White made two free throws late in the championship game to seal the championship.
Coach White was inducted into the University of Southern Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1992 and finished with 1,331 career points.
After college, Coach White went to camp in 1988 with the Indiana Pacers. After being cut, he began a professional journey that takes a globe to follow. His stops included Venezuela, Austria, Lithuania, France, England, Germany, Hong Kong and Cyprus.
In Cyprus, one of the team’s roles was to coach a junior team, and in that experience Coach White fulfilled his calling. He said: “My heart always wanted to coach, and this experience proved that to me.”
After retiring in 2002, Coach White focused on helping college players train and gain opportunities in Europe, along with other endeavors. But when his daughter, Jordan, started playing basketball in college, his coaching journey began.
From there he coached at Our Lady of Mercy, Sandy Creek and The Heritage School. After spending a year caring for his ailing father in Kentucky, Coach White returned to take the position of chief of boys at Central Christian.
He just finished his third season, where he took an injury-riddled team to the Sweet-16 this season.
Coach White lives in Fayetteville with his wife Sophia and has four children, Alexandria-31, John III-27, Jordan-22 and Jeriah-20.
So what does a 14-year-old former high school star, college Hall of Famer and professional basketball player do in his spare time? He trains in the gym; it is his vocation. He runs Genesis Elite, a basketball training program for young boys and girls ages 9-18.
Its program includes individual assessment and a specially designed training program that will support them throughout their high school career. He has a resume that includes boys and girls who compete in college athletics today.
Those interested in working with a humble legend who gets results can contact Coach White by phone at 404-916-1677 or email at [email protected]. His website is jwwhitejr.com.
Coach White was a four-year man of letters for the Southern Miss Golden Eagles and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Southern Miss won the 1987 NIT Tournament, including this victory over Vanderbilt. Coach White spent 14 years playing professionally all over the world, including Manchester Giants (England). Coach White (right) with senior Trai Parker and her mother at Central Christian’s senior night last month.