By BRIAN CUNNIFF
One of South Jersey’s top high school basketball players has made his college choice.
Wildwood Catholic rising senior guard Jahlil White announced on his social media pages Friday that he has committed to play at Division I Temple University in North Philadelphia.
The 6-6 White had been recruited by numerous Division I programs. He said he had received a total of 14 scholarship offers, among them Monmouth, Bowling Green, Hofstra and Towson.
White said he felt increasingly connected to Temple as the recruiting process progressed. He’ll play under new head coach Aaron McKie, a former Temple star and 13-year NBA player.
“Each time I visited I liked it more and more,” White said in a telephone interview shortly after posting his commitment to social media. “They made me feel at home and made me feel like a part of their family and I really liked the city feel. Coach McKie and (assistant) Coach (Chris) Clark did a great job recruiting me. They’re really good guys. I can’t wait to play for them and for Temple.”
White is one of the most versatile high school players in the state. At 6-6, he has the size, athleticism and finishing skills around the rim to play in the post but also has shown extremely improved ball-handling, distributing and shooting skills from the perimeter over the past couple of years.
“I think he’s shown (Temple) the potential he has and what he can be,” Wildwood Catholic coach Dave DeWeese said. “He worked very hard to improve his game. They see a young man that they think can be very impactful in that program from the very beginning.”
White averaged 18.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game for Wildwood Catholic last season, helping lead the Crusaders to a program-record 27-2 record and a second straight Cape-Atlantic League playoff tournament championship. In the state playoffs, Wildwood Catholic lost in overtime in the South Jersey Non-Public B title game to eventual Tournament of Champions winner Ranney.
White suffered a knee injury during AAU season in the spring but is expected to be cleared for all basketball activities by the fall.
White and 6-7 rising senior Taj Thweatt form one of the best high school basketball tandems in the state. Thweatt also has received numerous Division I scholarship offers, Temple among them.
“I know (White) developed a great bond with the coaching staff at Temple right away,” DeWeese said. “Aaron McKie has been awesome in his recruitment of both of our kids and I think Jahlil really bonded with him. I think it’s definitely the right fit for him.
“I’m so proud of him and what he has accomplished from a basketball perspective but I’m even more proud of the young man he has become over course last three or four years. He has matured and developed into a fine young man and Temple is very, very fortunate to be getting him because I think he is a jewel.”
As per NCAA rules, McKie and Temple are prohibited from commenting on White until he signs a National Letter of Intent, which will most likely occur this fall.
Temple went 23-10 overall, 13-5, in the American Athletic Conference last season. The Owls lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in what was longtime head coach Fran Dunphy’s final game. McKie had served as an assistant coach under Dunphy for five seasons before being officially promoted to head coach earlier this year.