FORT WAYNE – You heard his name before you ever saw him. And with his name came other words, too.
Chandler White, the words went, was a phenom, a kid who was a flag football star in elementary school and grew up loving baseball and football and excelling at both. He didnt take basketball seriously until he was in sixth or seventh grade, but now he excelled at that, too, on the Indiana Elite AAU team.
All of that White brought to Carroll with him, two winters ago.
Some of it hes still trying to live up to.
Hes figuring out a little bit now the effort its gonna take, the work ethic, the time and dedication, his coach, Marty Beasley, says. Hes maturing. Hes working hard. And hes doing a nice job for us right now.
White brought silky athleticism and a basketball players frame to Carroll as a freshman, and a bit more than that as a sophomore. If there were occasional flashes of potential in his initial season, last season there were even more, as White blossomed into Carrolls go-to option and averaged 16.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Now he comes to his junior year as one of the top players in the NHC, after a summer of working out with former North Side and Wright State star Vernard Hollins. His perimeter shooting is better. His ballhandling is miles better. His understanding of what it takes to be great is beyond miles better.
At the beginning of my basketball, I didnt really have a good work ethic, White says. But then Coach Beasley sat me down and said if you dont work hard youre not gonna get where you want to be.
And its easier now, for a variety of reasons.
Too many times we look at a kid like him, and hes talented, but we forget hes only a freshman or sophomore or junior and we expect him to be able to do all these things, Beasley says. No offense to him and to the players weve had the last few years, but weve not been as good as we were before. If (Chandler) had the Shane Merrymans of the world on our team and he was here, I think he would have realized the leadership and the work ethic that goes into it a little sooner.
But he kind of had to be our go-to guy as a freshman. And its kind of hard to learn your way from older guys when youve got to be that guy yourself.
Of that, White says he was aware of what people were saying about him coming into high school, so he just tried to play as hard as he could.
Last year, he says, it got easier, less stressful, in part because the conference was so good.
Our conference was really talented last year, so we all just tried to show what we had, he says. When I played better competition, then I just raised my (level of play) even more. It just helps you when youre playing better people.
Hes got a learning curve, too, and hes doing it, Beasley says. Hes getting better every day.