Being from South Orange, it was easy for Austin White to simply go to Seton Hall Prep out of grade school.
“I always wanted to go to Seton Hall Prep,” White said. “Ever since I first started playing basketball, that’s where I wanted to go.”
White said that he spent “a very enjoyable freshman year” at Seton Hall Prep, but after his first year there, he decided to leave.
“It was a tough decision for me, but I felt that between academics and basketball, St. Peter’s was a better fit,” White said.
So White transferred to St. Peter’s Prep after his freshman year and has never looked back.
“It definitely was the perfect fit for me and I’m glad I made the move,” said White, now a senior at Grand and Warren.
White has been a three-year starter for the Marauders and was the team’s leading scorer last year, helping the Marauders win the NJSIAA Non-Public A North state sectional championship.
But when the Marauders began practices for the 2013-2014 season, there were some talented newcomers to the roster, some of the best players to arrive at the school in quite some time. Sophomore Veer Singh arrived from Georgia with one of the best all-around skill sets the Marauders have ever had. Nate Pierre-Louis enrolled as a freshman and was immediately touted as one of the best freshman players in the entire state.
Yet White was the holdover from a year ago, the one who had to basically bring all the talent together and work somehow as a unit.
“I think it’s safe to say that it’s our most talented team,” said third-year head coach Todd Decker.
Decker knew that he needed White to be the team’s leader.
“He knows the challenge,” Decker said. “He’s not a vocal kid, but he found a way to lead. He’s done it with his play. It’s all about his actions. He’s definitely a role model for the young talented kids. He has a blue collar mentality. He puts his shoes on and goes after it.”
Decker was asked if there was any concern adding talented players to the team and keeping everyone content.
“That’s always a concern,” Decker said. “There are always a lot of guys who want the ball. It was about Austin bringing them all in. The young guys are able to see that and learn from it. They see him being unselfish and getting shots for others instead of him.”
However, at the same time, White had to basically continue the scoring trend he established over the last two seasons. That’s not an easy thing to do. Be unselfish while being a scorer at the same time?
“This year’s team is deeper than last year,” said the 5-foot-11 senior White. “We’re very talented, loads of talent. The young guys are great players. They just have to figure it all out as a whole. One of our strengths is having so much firepower. As a senior, it was my job to take a leading role.”
White has been nothing short of brilliant in the early portion of the season.
He has averaged close to 20 points per game for the Marauders, who now own an 8-2 record. He scored 30 points against Jesuit of Florida and 23 versus Canisius Prep in a holiday tournament.
Since the turn of the calendar, White has scored 27 against Memorial, 22 in a huge win over Bayonne and last week, he scored 19 points in a win over Union City.
In that game, White became only the ninth player in the storied history of St. Peter’s Prep basketball to reach the prestigious 1,000-point plateau.
For his efforts, White has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Before he reached the milestone, White said that he took a glance at the banner of 1,000-point scorers that hangs in the Prep gym.
“I realized that there weren’t a lot of names there,” White said. “It meant a whole lot to get there. It was a goal I was working toward. I knew I was close, but I didn’t know how much. I didn’t want to let it affect the way I was playing. I know everyone in my family is proud of me for the accomplishment. I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
“I think he scores in his sleep,” Decker said. “A lot of the time, I feel like he’s not doing much and then I realize he has 20. It comes so natural for him. He gets his points in bunches.”
Decker said that there isn’t a harder worker in the Prep gym.
“He puts in the work on the floor, in the weight room, in the classroom,” Decker said. “And it’s not like every year. It’s every month. He’s 5-foot-11, but he has a 38-inch vertical leap. He runs like he’s been shot out of a cannon. He’s so fast that he’s able to get separation from everyone and gets good lift on his shot. He’s a combo guard. He’s not a pure point guard. But he’s able to run the offense and closes games out. He’s able to make the right decisions with the ball. That’s important, especially with the young kids around him.”
White knows that he has a big responsibility.
“I have to use my scoring to my advantage,” White said. “I have to be able to run the team and when things get rough, I have to bring the ball up the floor. There are other times when I’m off the ball. I definitely like where I’m at right now. My job is to be a leader and to step up.”
Decker also credited White’s work on the other end.
“We’re also asking him to guard the other team’s best scorer,” Decker said. “He also helps with our rebounding. We ask him to do a lot. He knows what’s expected of him. He holds everyone accountable. There’s a different set of dynamics with this team. The others see what Austin White is doing and they realize that it’s the right way. He’s been huge for the younger kids.”
White already has his future planned. He’s already signed a national letter of intent to attend NCAA Division I High Point University in North Carolina in the fall.
“They recruited me for the player I am now,” White said. “I can handle the ball if needed. I can score. It’s absolutely a great place for me and I’m definitely excited about it.”
For now, White is excited leading the Marauders and their talented roster.
“It’s great to see the younger kids develop,” White said. “It’s actually kind of scary to see their ability. It’s going to help the school even after I’m gone. But we want to win now, go further [in the NJSIAA state playoffs] than we did last year. I think we can.”
As long as Austin White continues to lead the way. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.