Mike White - Stepping Up
Dec. 21, 2006
One of four newcomers on the Indiana roster this season, junior Mike White is currently enjoying the fruits of two years of labor at Lee (Texas) College. White, a 6-6, 232-pound forward for the Hoosiers, started all 61 games of his junior college career, averaging 19.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore last season. Those numbers caught the attention of the IU coaching staff - particularly assistant coach Ray McCallum - and before long, White was heading for one of the most prestigious college basketball programs in the history of the sport.
"Coach McCallum saw me in a regional tournament, so he just started recruiting me from there," White said. "He brought me up here and showed me what Indiana basketball was all about. That's all it took, really."
White brought with him a physicality and work ethic that helped him earn third-team National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-America honors for Lee last season. And while White says his game is the same as it's always been, the vessel delivering that game has undergone a drastic change in the last few years. White shed about 50 pounds during his junior college career, and now sports a lean, 5.6 body fat percentage.
"I lost - I'm not sure how many pounds, but I lost a lot from my first year I got there to the end of my second year," White said. "I just lost a lot of weight because we used to lift every day and work hard just every day."
That hard work led him to average 17.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest as a freshman. White increased his scoring the following year, earning NJCAA Region XIV Co-MVP honors. It also earned him a ticket to the Big Ten - and the big time.
"It was just my ambition to work hard and get to a good Division I program from day one," White said. "It was always my intention."
His ambitions realized, the Springhill, La., native is now a significant contributor for the Hoosiers, coming off the bench to see action in each game this season.
White scored 10 points in as many minutes against Lafayette on Nov. 13, going 4-for-5 from the field in an auspicious debut. His most impressive performance in the Cream and Crimson came in one of the toughest road venues in all of college basketball, as he scored four points and pulled down a team-best eight rebounds in a season-high 25 minutes at No. 10 Duke on Nov. 28 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He followed that up with five points and five boards in 16 minutes of action in a win over Charlotte on Dec. 2, and blocked a career-best two shots against Western Illinois on Dec. 6.
"Mike's doing what he does," head coach Kelvin Sampson said after the Duke game. "We signed Mike in May. Mike got eight rebounds the other night, Mike did an unbelievable job. We got here in April and the only big guy that was going to be here for sure was Ben Allen. So we recruited Lance (Stemler) and Mike after we found out we needed some big guys.
"Don't expect him to be what he's not - he had eight rebounds the other night," Sampson continued. "He took the ball to the hole, got to the line seven times. We're going to try to get him up to around 50 percent on his free throw shooting, though. That will help. He's in there playing against (Duke's Brian) Zubek and (Josh) McRoberts - those guys are 7-foot. He's 6-6. We didn't see anybody better in May that we could get to help us. I think Mike's doing great."
While White continues to adjust to Division I basketball and the increased level of attention it brings, he's not setting any specific goals for himself. He just wants to do one thing.
"Just help the team win, do whatever I can do," White said. "Play my part and just help the team do what we need to do."
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