By Isaac White | 400 days, 5 yrs of growing up
Prelude by Janx.......
One of the great ethos of this site will be to be as open and as transparent as possible about the journey of the featured athletes. At the top each blog we do there is a disclaimer. It makes it clear what these blogs are about. Fundamentally, this is not a news site, it is an unofficial, blogging site. It just so happens it is the leading blogging site in Australia in this space, with articles from current and former high level Youth, State level, College, NBL, Euro and NBA athletes and coaches, reaching 1000s of people. We give you, the reader, some great stories, insights and articles and our personal touch is what makes this site unique. Readers get great value through the independent, personal views that are first hand, credible, honest, from perspectives you cannot find on a news site. If you want to read the news, not personal insights and accounts then read Pickandroll.com.au (a great basketball news site that I read often btw), News.com.au or similar.
3 types of blogs seem to generate massive interest. Blogs on national championships, blogs by featured athletes and blogs on hardcore x's and o's (EG: ball screens and 3 side actions). Isaac's last blog was extremely well read (one of the most read) and appreciated.
Sharing these journeys and stories in this format will have a number of benefits:
inspire and excite other young players coming through, or anyone for that matter.
for players, parents and supporters to learn lessons from those that have gone through the same systems they are coming through
help featured athletes connect with kids from where they came from so that they understand that their success and journey is bigger than themselves. This will help keep them going through the down/challenging times too. I always tell them their journey is bigger themselves.
let college coaches and scouts know what kind of people they are recruiting from www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com
Invested, tough, selfless that is the ethos at Stanford.
These words epitomise the man Isaac is today. It all makes sense now, he is where he was destined to be at this stage of his career and life.
Adam Cohen, Assistant Coach at Stanford, and the man that was Isaac’s primary recruiting coach through the process, had this to say on what they saw in Isaac during the recruiting period and what they’ve seen once he has arrived on campus………
"Isaac is the definition of our core values; invested, tough and selfless. He has made a great impression on our staff and the surrounding areas and are so excited to have him a part of our family!"
PICTURED: Adam Cohen, pictured right, is one of the emerging coaches in American College basketball. Stanford did a massive amount of homework and research in the very drawn out recruiting process. Unfortunately (well maybe fortunately for him now they have Isaac), Coach Cohen received a very detailed email or video update on Isaac, every few days from Coach Janx at one period of the recruiting process.... but Coach Cohen kept saying he wanted more.
We didn’t know it before he got there, and I definitely did not know it when I first met him back in 2013, but it seems his journey took him to where he was always going to be. To understand why, lets look at a part of the journey and who he has become - an "invested, tough, selfless" man.
Isaac shared a lot of his back story in his first blog (Mental Toughness and Dedication). I personally am very proud to have been a part of his journey along the way. His Mother (Helen), Father (Kerry) and brother (Sam), also friends of mine, have obviously had a massive impact on him. I guess the results of their investment into him so far speak for itself. I am glad they have been so supportive, welcoming and appreciative in letting me do my small bit along the way as a part of "Team White", when it comes to Isaac.
PICTURED: Kerry (Isaac's Father) pictured with Isaac as he departs for Stanford. As Kerry always says to Coach Janx, "Andrew, it is the way we do things here". Kerry, an educational leader in his professional life, has a healthy, balanced demand for excellence off the floor, in life and in the classroom.
Through his journey Isaac and I have formed a very close bond and friendship, and something that will always continue. I've seen him grow on and off the floor in the 4-5 yrs I've known him. He is always wanting to put back in; working with young kids in Basketball South Australia’s TI Camps, guest speaking at the State singlet presentation for our U18 State team, extra training workouts with the likes of local up and comers like Jarryd Hoppo, James Adcock, Joel Dyer etc, even assisting me with the Sturt Sabres u16 div 1 boys team this year. A team considered the best in Australia, hopefully packed with future Aussie prospects, developed with Isaac's help.
My observations through all this is that he has developed the ability to build great relationships with his peers, whilst being the supreme competitor (some call him a killer) he is. The most impressive thing I see now is a calmness and strength of character in his mindset. Ready to ride the ups and downs of his journey, loving the process of getting better every single day. He has an understanding that success as a man is not always defined by a basketball game. The game should be used as a tool to self-development and to help others (team mates, youth, friends, coaches etc.) and nothing more. The crowds or accolades won't change the core of what the game is to be used for. His story is still very much in its infancy but he truly has the opportunity to have the world at his feet now as covered by Fox Basketball writer Olgun Uluc, Isaac White proves doubters wrong with commitment to Stanford.
For my part, helping an elite athlete and man of Isaac’s calibre is a team effort with a few others involved. Obviously when you put a lot of effort and belief into young players, you hope others see what you see and listen to your insights on those players after they have played for you. I’d like to personally acknowledge here Scott Whitmore (Isaac’s U20 State Coach), Paul Rigoni in the Sturt Premier League program, Joey Wright (Adelaide 36ers – our local pro-NBL team), Paul Mesecke as Director of Coaching at Sturt, Adam Caporn as the National U19 coach. All these men recognised Isaac for what he brings to teams, and his talents on and off the floor and they typically backed him 100%. I take pride in predicting talent, investing into and backing that talent in South Australian male youth baskteballers, and Isaac did not let me down, nor the other coaches that saw what he was capable of and had faith in him.
In his previous blog (Mental Toughness and Dedication) Isaac talks about some setbacks and challenges he had along the way and how they shaped him, something many athletes go through. Anyway, the period he speaks about in his previous blog evolved into an amazing 400 days for this young man which he now discusses.
I have asked him to do a blog on all the key travel and events he has been involved with this past 12 mths. Turning 18 that year, completing yr 12 studies with a top atar, whilst been involved in a year that not too many elite 18 yr olds in the world would experience. I am sure this will inspire many young athletes out there, what a journey, what a ride so far for an 18 year old, young man out of Adelaide.
I also know that for Isaac writing is going to help him reflect on his year, step back for a moment and then use this reflection to strive forward. For readers, it is a chance to think about the enormous challenges of all the travel, getting high grades, his personal workouts, strength and conditioning he undertook over this period in his life.
Over to Isaac......
February 2017: 400 days… 5 years’ worth of growing up.
The past 18 months sure have been an emotional and physical rollercoaster for me, but I could not be more thankful for the journey I’ve been on so far. As Janx highlighted, basketball has afforded me the opportunity to travel the world, in a very short space of time, and I’ve learned an unbelievable amount along the way.
Each location came with different challenges, helping me develop as an athlete, and, perhaps most importantly, mature into the man I one day aspire to be. Throughout my journey, the opportunities have been vast, and the obstacles aplenty, but my ultimate goal never wavered.
See, I’ve made sure that everything I do - every body part I train, every bit of food I put in my body, every shot I take, every journey I embark upon – brings me closer to that ultimate goal. It’s what keeps me driven, but also what keeps me grounded.
I know that, whatever praise I may receive, it means nothing because I’m not even close to where I want to be in my life and career. Any criticism or ridicule that comes my way – and boy, there’s been a lot - only makes me work harder. It’s what comes with being an ‘elite athlete’ – I understood that from the start -, so I decided not just to get used to it… I decided to use it.
The Learning Curve
PICTURED: Isaac also managed to lead Sacred Heart (his High School) to win the prestigious State Championship in amongst all this.
High school was where the foundation was set for me. Over the past 18 months, basketball all but took over my life as I completed my high school studies at Sacred Heart College. This balancing act of pursuing both my athletic and academic goals certainly provided me with a taste of what it’s like to be a student-athlete. As I reminisce over that last year – attempting to balance year 12 with a sprouting basketball career – I realize it will likely be one of the greatest workloads I will ever endure during my time on earth, but it was easily the most enjoyable and rewarding.
It was just the grind of it all, really. While it took some getting used to, it makes you so much more appreciative of life itself. The 5am starts to get to the gym before school, the up ‘til 2am trying to work out the bloody surface area of an irregular polygon, and the sense that year 12 is a never-ending tunnel of stress. It absolutely sucks, but I won’t lie. It really is the best.
Grade 12 for me was unusual, in the sense that I spent a quarter of my schooling year either overseas or interstate. This undoubtedly increased the difficulty of my year, but it taught me how to be efficient with my time. I scheduled every minute of every day, so that I could achieve both my sporting and academic goals for the year. I relied on my family, teachers, and closer friends to help me through all of this, and I cannot be more appreciative for their efforts and investment in me.
Premier League at the Sturt Sabres
My first premier league season really was a blast. My teammates and coaches made my first experience of playing against men truly enjoyable. From hitting a game winner on poor Forestville in my debut, to going down in the grand final, and having my name cursed by the opposition crowd, the season had a multitude of ups and downs. But with each obstacle or success, I saw it as a learning opportunity for me, so I continued. There were a few personal achievements during this season, but they aren't what I remember. I remember the day in and day out grind with my team, who dug ourselves out of holes, stayed loyal, and battled our way all the way up to the big dance.
PICTURED: Not one to talk up his individual achievements it is still worth mentioning he won team MVP, best U21 player in the league and swathe of other awards as an 18 year old rookie that, with his team mates, took his team to the Grand Final. He and his team mate Jacob Rigoni (2017 Quinnipiac Commit) have dominated this league to a level rarely seen by 18 year olds.
Coaching and putting back in
Throughout this period I have also been coaching with Janx and Jason Williams in the club I grew up with the Sturt Sabres. To be able to work with Janx, now as a colleague and friend has been really cool.
I want to be part of something special at Stanford, to help make history. I know I need to be able to make people around me better to do that and coaching has helped me gain insights on how to do that, and I have found that aspect rewarding too. Shout out to my swish brother – Joel Dyer.
PICTURED: Jason Williams (left), U16 player Taine Mitchell, Coach Janx and Isaac. A few months after the window this blog is about, this team, with Isaac on the coaching staff, would dominate to win the prestigious Melbourne Classics as the top U16 club level team in the country.
January 2016 – Eltham/Dandenong Tournament: - 800 kms
Due to my love for the Eltham/Dandenong Australia Day basketball tournament, a few friends and I (I will emphasise a few) came together to represent Sturt for the weekend. Our team consisted of 5 players, and with a few injuries throughout the weekend, we struggled to get 5 players onto the court at times. Nonetheless, our team snuck a few wins and learned to perfect a 2-2 zone.
February 2016 - Ipswich- U20 National Championships – 1600 kms
This had to be one of the best weeks of my life. Our u20 state group consisted on 7 bottom agers, 3 top agers, and an amazing coaching and support staff. At this tournament, our state team experienced for the first time what it was like to be wearing a medal at the end of the tournament, as us 17 year olds asserted our dominance within our respective age group. Personally, I was fortunate enough to be put in great offensive spots by my teammates, which saw me lead the u20 National Championships in scoring. As a reward for my personal improvement at both ends of the floor, I met with the u19 Australian coach Adam Caporn, and was informed that I was now a part of the Australian u19 National team pathway.
VIDEO: Highlights from the U20 National Championships in 2016 where Isaac would lead the tournament in scoring, helping his team to a bronze medal. They could not refuse to listen any longer.
Canberra, Centre of Excellence @ Australian Institute of Sport- April 2016 - National Training Camp – 968 Kms
My first ever trip to the Australian Institute of Sport. It was something I literally dreamed of ever since I toured the place in primary school for a school camp. I always believed there was a certain lustre to athletes who trained of lived at the AIS, and now I could be one of them. Camp was camp, and as our Australian National u19 team only had a matter of days to prepare for the Albert Schweitzer tournament in Germany, the days consisted of hours of full court defence, offensive execution, film sessions, recovery, weightlifting, and eating- there really wasn’t much time for anything else. But I embraced this, this was the life I had always wanted, so it was time to make it count. And so as the week of training camp ended, I made my way to Sydney airport for my first ever international flight (Janx: only 12 mths later Isaac must be a seasoned veteran of international travel).
April 2016 - Mannheim Germany - Albert Schweitzer Tournament – 15687kms
I didn’t know a 17 year old kid could learn so much about himself in a 14 day period. The first week of the trip, our National team lifted weights in German weight rooms where not a word of English was spoken, played against random professional teams for preparation, adjusted slightly to the realisation that Germans eat meat 3 meals a day, and grew anxious but hungry for the tournament to begin. As each day passed, I could appreciate that I was become a more resilient and independent version of myself- my pallet also finally found a way to tolerate the harsh experience that is drinking sparkling water every dinnertime. The gameplay throughout the week saw myself and our team experience both extremes: One day we lost a close one to Argentina where I found myself friendly with the pine, the next I was making game winners, and scoring 25 in overtime against Turkey. I will never forget this trip, for a multitude of reasons. Whether it was witnessing the Serbians setting off flares after games and intimidating players with their drums and chants, trying to ask a French dude where the toilet was, or representing my country for the first time with a great group of men and coaches, I will not forget a second of it.
PICTURED: Jacob Rigoni (2017 Quinnipiac Commit), Lat Mayen (2017 TCU Commit), Isaac White (2017 Stanford Commit). All 3xSturt Sabres team mates represented Australia at the Albert Schweitzer tournament. All 3 have Division 1 college scholarships. "Successful people build each other up. They motivate, inspire and push each other. Unsuccessful people just hate, blame, and complain." - anonymous. Is true for these 3 men, and their team mates that made each other better, pushed each other, inspired each other, and in doing so built lifelong bonds that few people share. If they had told anyone this would happen just 18 months earlier you would have been laughed at.
July 2016 - Canberra - BA Elite Prospects Combine – 968 kms
I had the option of playing in July AAU basketball or take up the Basketball Australia Elite Prospects college combine. I decided to commit to the Prospects Combine. This was the first event of its kind in Australia. 30+ college coaches swarmed from the US to watch the top 32 ranked players from the country compete. It was also great to be involved in such a historic event with my fellow Sturties Jacob Rigoni, Lat Mayen, Alex Mudronja, Janx (asst coach) and also the other SA Boys in Brent Hank, Owen Hulland, Koen Sapwell. From a personal standpoint, I had a few schools come to watch me play, and after scoring 31 in the combine grand final in front of my target schools, I was able to secure a few division 1 offers, which really got my recruitment rolling.
Shoutout to all my teammates from team red for a great combine, and an undefeated record.
Pictured: Team Red at the Basketball Australia Elite Prospects Combine won it all. Isaac's team included his South Aussie team mates, and featured athletes on this site, in Brent Hank (2017 University of Albany Commit) and Owen Hulland (Class of 2018, 6'11'' Stretch 4). Most, if not all, of this team is moving into Division 1 college programs or professional teams now.
August 2016 - Sydney - Washington Huskies Game – 1165 kms
With thanks to the University of Sydney, I was humbled when presented with the opportunity to play against the University of Washington in an exhibition game. I was periodically matched with lottery pick Markelle Fultz, and experienced the length and athleticism of elite college basketball. USYD sold out, and the atmosphere was electric.
PICTURED: Isaac did not feel negative pressure or nerves going into this game. He loves the big stage and knows he can perform at any level.
VIDEO: Highlights from the game. Listen to the commentary. Well done Cal Bruton!
September 2016 - Back to Sydney - UCLA Game – 1165 kms
UCLA: Much like the previous, I gained experience playing against yet another lottery pick (Lonzo Ball), and an additional taste of what the game would be like at the next level. The greatest difference between basketball in Australia, and basketball against some of the best college basketball teams on the planet, was the speed of the game, the length and size of the bodies that filled the keyways, and the discipline of college basketball lineups- a culture of elite accountability.
VIDEO: More flowing commentary with another good game from Isaac, flying in early that day, playing in a hastily put together team to lineup against one of the best college teams in America that year.
October 2016 - Boise Visit - Idaho - 13709 kms
Boise: Boise State was my first official college basketball visit. After moments of checking into my personal hotel room, being greeted by handfuls of hand written letters from the staff, a rainbow of Gatorades, my fridge full of complimentary food, and a bed which could fit an Italian extended family, I soon discovered that college recruitment was no child’s play. I loved this experience, and met many great people. One of which was John Rillie, a Gonzaga University and NBL legend, and an even better trash talker. Unfortunately for him (Janx: in Rillie's defense I have been reliably informed that Isaac did come off the unfortunate one in the shootouts. Rillie, an NBL great, keeps his shot in fine tune for recruits), we had spent hours on court together competing in shootouts and 1v1 games by the time the visit was over. This was my first taste of college basketball, and it was everything I hoped it would be.
PICTURED: The Gatorade and fruit stash in Isaac's Hotel room at Boise.
PICTURED: Boise home court. Boise State, with Rillie on staff, has been a very successful upper mid major program, which included dominant Aussies in Igor Hadziomerovic, Anthony Drmic and Nick Duncan.