Hanover’s White has a tall act to follow: His NBA veteran dad

  • Hanover's Jai White (25) reaches to pull in a pass from teammate Max Galbraith in the closing moments of the game with Lebanon in Hanover, N.H., on Feb. 5, 2019. Lebanon's defense closed in on White and the game went into three overtimes before Lebanon won, 60-53. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Washington Wizards' Jahidi White, right, scores over Atlanta Hawks' Dikembe Mutombo in the first quarter Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2000, in Washington. Wizards' Mitch Richmond (2) is in the background. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

  • The Hanover boys basketball team, including Jai White at center, listen to head coach Tim Winslow during a timeout of their game against Lebanon in Hanover, N.H., on Feb. 5. 2019. White's father Jahidi White played in the NBA from 1998 to 2005. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/3/2019 8:52:00 PM

HANOVER — Hanover High freshman Jai White often watches old highlights of his father, former University of Georgetown and Washington Wizards center Jahidi White, playing NBA basketball. He models parts of his game off of what he’s seen from the seven-year pro; other parts of his game, he’s molded himself.

Jahidi White certainly knows the difference. The game has evolved since he last took the court for the Charlotte Bobcats in 2005. These days, basketball players need more than one dimension to their game. He’s proud of his son for recognizing that fact so early.

“He understands the game has to be expanded from when I played,” Jahidi White, who does not reside in the Upper Valley, said over the phone on Saturday. “I try to teach him what I know, but my ego is not so big. I don’t know what I don’t know. If he wants to go to the next level — college, pro — he has to extend past how I played.

“I like that he creates his own style of play, his own way of playing.”

Jai White came to Hanover 2½ years ago with his mother, April Salas, and his stepfather, who got into the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. He played two seasons with Hanover’s middle school program, plays AAU basketball in Washington, plays summer ball in St. Louis and has had stints playing overseas.

“It’s competitive nature,” said Jai White over the phone on Saturday. “I played football last year, played soccer a while back. Basketball is my best and favorite sport.”

Tim Winslow, Hanover High’s boys basketball coach, said he’s been impressed by the two freshmen he’s had playing varsity minutes this season, the other being Maxwell Galbraith.

“We have two freshmen on the varsity team, which is double how many I’ve had in the first 18 years of coaching at Hanover,” Winslow said. “Jai has certainly been a great addition to the team. He’s got kind of this affable, contagious personality.”

Part of that love for the sport has been inherited from his father.

Jahidi White, 43, grew up in St. Louis and played college basketball with Allen Iverson at Georgetown University. He was drafted in the second round, 43rd overall, by Washington in the 1998 NBA Draft, played five seasons with the Wizards — two with Michael Jordan — and finished his pro career with stints with the Phoenix Suns, Wizards and Bobcats. Jahidi White played 334 games, averaging 17.7 minutes, 5.8 rebounds and 5.9 points per game.

“I came into Georgetown with Iverson. He was a unique personality; we were roommates,” Jahidi White said of Iverson, who played 10 years with the Philadelphia 76ers. “He was one of those guys, full of energy, full of life, both extremes. The one thing about Allen was you had to learn his game plan. … He could run the floor, probably one of the fastest players I ever played with.”

White’s time with Jordan, however, was more of a lesson in basketball than anything.

“There was Jordan in the game, Jordan in the locker room — the Jordan you see and the Jordan we see,” Jahidi White said. “You learned more off of his work ethic, the time he puts in and his court vision. Especially like when you’re going over in shootaround, you’re going over the next game play, scouting the next game.

“He could see a lot, knew every position, had the vision of how we were going to defend and attack this team. It was a amazing to see that, to soak that in. Everything you learned added to your basketball IQ.”

Jai White has heard the war stories, has studied the game and tried to mold his development from that broader perspective.

“It’s really cool to hear all this; it’s inspiring and cool,” Jai White said. “It makes me want to achieve what (my father) did and maybe do it better.”

His first season with the Marauders has been something of a transition into varsity basketball, growing pains and all. Hanover is 10-10 overall, 9-9 in NHIAA Division II, headed into the playoffs.

“It’s been a big jump from last year at the parks and rec league to varsity basketball,” Jai White said. “People are way more physical and strong. I feel like I’ve adjusted to be more strong and physical; it’s a way different mindset now. You have to act like every game is your last game, every rebound, every point.”

Added Winslow: “It’s been a learning curve for him, the first couple of times out there going up against bigger, stronger kids. It’s certainly been a challenge. but as the season’s gone on, Jai’s gotten stronger and more confident. … He’s getting better each game, each practice.”

Hanover is ranked 13th in D-II. Playoff seedings will be announced on Monday.

“We’re going in (to the tournament) with our heads high,” Jai White said. “We just have to practice extra hard this week and work our butts off.”

The game has changed since Jahidi White’s days in the NBA; traditional big-man centers have slowly been replaced with all-around players that can do more than just be physical underneath the basket.

“The big men in the game now can score from 15 feet out,” Jahidi White said. “(Golden State’s) DeMarcus Cousins can bang it inside and shoot the three. They can also run through you, guys like Draymond (Green, of Golden State), he has the court vision to do more than like two things.”

Watching his son come up in a new, well-rounded game, Jahidi White said, has been fun to watch.

“I like the way Jai approaches the game, he understands the game,” he said. “I didn’t team him, he just understands that.

“I’m proud of him, proud of the young man he is and how much he’s accomplished, how much he’s grown. … He’s an amazing kid.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

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