Providence Day girls’ basketball coach Josh Springer doesn’t talk with his team about individual awards or individual stats.
The team’s motto is, “It’s not about me.”
But it’s hard to ignore the slew of individual accolades 6-foot-4 senior forward Jatarie White has collected.
White has been named to the All-N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A team three times. She also has made The Associated Press all-state team and was named N.C. AP girls’ Player of the Year last season.
She played on the USA Basketball U16 team in 2011 and is ranked by ESPN as the No. 7 senior recruit in the country. She has signed to play at South Carolina.
In March, she was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for North Carolina, an award she was a finalist for the previous year, losing to Providence Day teammate Tiffany Mitchell.
So what is her goal for her senior season? First, another state championship.
“It would mean a lot to me, just that I was part of four state wins, to help my team get there,” White, 18, said. “It would be a big deal to me.”
Providence Day has won four state championships in a row and eight of the past nine. White, who has played varsity since her freshman year, has been part of the past three.
The Chargers (15-2) will begin CISAA play at 6 p.m. Tuesday against arch rival Charlotte Christian (9-4, 1-0).
White has averaged at least 11 points and eight rebounds each of her first three years at Providence Day. Last season, she led the team with 19 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
Springer said he knew White could be special when he saw her as an eighth-grader. She wasn’t just tall (listed at 6-foot-3 as a freshman); she had coordination and nice moves around the basket.
Springer said her skills since have become more “fine-tuned,” her knowledge of the game and basketball IQ have “grown exponentially,” and she has become a leader.
“As a high school coach, I often think, if a player’s in our program for four years, I hope nobody ever watches her and says, ‘Well, that’s the same kid I saw as a freshman.’ ” Springer said. “Because if they do, I’ve done a poor job and our staff’s done a poor job. And I think the exact opposite” about White.
White is leading this season’s Chargers with 22.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
She’s getting those numbers with an inexperienced backcourt. Providence Day lost its three starting guards to graduation last year, including four-year starting point guard Ja’Da Brayboy, now a freshman at UNC Asheville averaging 7.4 points and 2.2 assists.
Filling in for Brayboy is senior Emma Pixley, averaging 3.1 assists and 2.3 points.
“Emma Pixley’s done a great, admirable job filling in at our point guard position, but obviously is still learning in terms of game experience,” Springer said.
Springer said White could be scoring more if she wanted to, but she’s quick to pass, letting teammates score if they have a better opportunity. Springer said college coaches have told him she’s almost too unselfish.
“She treats every player on our team, verbally and nonverbally, like she has faith in them to make the next play,” Springer said. “And that’s a really admirable trait, and I don’t know if I would have that trait.”
White, one of three seniors on a team with six underclassmen, has tried to be a role model, especially for 6-3 freshman Janelle Bailey. Bailey is averaging 15 points and 8.3 rebounds, and likely will replace White as the Chargers’ key post player next season.
Their styles complement each other and challenge each other. White is left-handed and Bailey right-handed; Bailey is more physical in the post, but White is more agile, a finesse player.
“I feel like she pushes me because she’s a great shot-blocker and she does some things that I didn’t really do my freshman year, but also I feel honored being able to push her,” White said of Bailey. “I know I had great people pushing me when I was a freshman. Olivia Parker (now a sophomore at Gardner-Webb) and all of them, but yeah, I really enjoy practicing against her.”
White said she has felt pressure to perform during her senior season. Some of that pressure was relieved when she committed to South Carolina, a school she said felt like home when she visited. It’s also a place where she’ll get to play with former Providence Day teammate Mitchell, who is leading the Gamecocks with 15.4 points per game as a sophomore.
Though Springer doesn’t talk about individual awards, White said she thinks about them. She wants to repeat as state Gatorade Player of the Year. Getting named McDonald’s All-American also is one of her top goals; she recently was named a nominee for the All-American game.
“Sometimes I want to just relax and enjoy my senior year, but at the same time it’s just, I’ve got to get better at this, I’ve got to do this and if I don’t do this it’s going to affect me in the long run,” White said. “So I always have to keep thinking that I always have to keep working hard.”
But Springer and White know they can’t control individual awards. It’s better to focus on leading Providence Day to another state championship.
“She comes to practice every day with a great work ethic, trying to get better, great game day, trying to get better,” Springer said. “We’ve got 50 practices and 30 games, and at the end of it all let’s do the best we can.
“I just think if it’s something she wins again, great. I know she’ll be happy. I know her teammates will be happy. I’ll be thrilled for her. If she doesn’t, I don’t think it diminishes any of her accomplishments at all over the years.”
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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