By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Jahlil White has goals. They’re almost all team oriented.
The 6-6 senior guard wants to see his Wildwood Catholic High School boys basketball team win the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament for the third straight year. He strives for his team to remain ranked high in the state poll. And he desires a long state tournament run that culminates with at least a South Jersey championship.
Oh, and he wants to score his 1,000th career point.
“But that’s probably at the bottom of the list,” said White, a Division I Temple signee. “Points are something I don’t really worry about. I want to get the team involved and win. (One thousand points) isn’t really a goal but it’s (about to) happen.”
White is 23 points away from that milestone after netting 29 points in a 75-56 Cape-Atlantic United Conference victory at Pleasantville on Wednesday. The Crusaders host Cape May Tech on Friday before playing Christian Brothers Academy at the Boardwalk Showcase at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft on Saturday.
Scoring “1,000 points was never something I really thought about,” White said. “But I realized I was close at the end of last season when (coach Dave DeWeese) said I had 824. Then a couple games ago someone told me I needed around 100. So it’s been on my mind a little bit lately. But it’s not something I worry about.”
While White is about to surpass a rather significant scoring mark, his legacy at Wildwood Catholic won’t be based solely on his ability to score. He’s proven to be one of the most versatile players in program history thanks to his ball handling, defensive, perimeter and interior skills.
White is averaging 19.2 points through eight games so there’s no guarantee he’ll get the required number to reach 1,000 points against the Hawks at home on Friday. But it would be nice, especially considering the Crusaders simply don’t play a lot of home games due to the many invitations to high-level showcase events across the region.
“To be able to do it at home is just a great opportunity,” White said. “It fell in the schedule perfectly. It would mean a lot if I could do it (Friday).”
White’s all-around production has steadily increased with each passing game this season. He started the season a bit slowly after undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus over the summer. But he’s been exhibiting more and more explosiveness with each passing game.
“My knee’s feeling better and better,” he said. “At the beginning of the (pre-)season it was sore and it swelled up a lot. The doctor said it was normal (after surgery), that I was just getting a little bit of fluid in there. They gave me some anti-inflammatory (medicine) and that’s really helped a lot.”
White committed to Temple in the fall after receiving more than a dozen scholarship offers. That has helped him enjoy his senior season even more.
“It’s no stress now that I’m committed to Temple,” he said. “Last year it was hard to have that on my mind because I know I had to play well in front of the college coaches. Now it’s like I don’t have to impress anyone. I can just go out there and do what it takes to help my team win.”
White has helped Wildwood Catholic off to a 6-2 start that includes close losses to Archbishop Wood (Pa.) and Elizabeth, two of the best teams in the tri-state area. White had two of his best games this season in those losses. He and 6-8 senior Thweatt, a West Virginia signee, make up one of the best teammate tandems in the state. Thweatt surpassed 1,000 career points last season as a junior.
Thanks to that duo and a terrific supporting cast full of players who could be stars on other teams, Wildwood Catholic has been considered one of the top teams in the state for two seasons running now. With that can come some potential distractions.
“We love the attention but it can be overwhelming,” White said. “But mostly it’s great.”
Over the next game or two, White’s going to receive lots of individual attention as he hits the 1,000-point mark. He’ll enjoy it, but not as much as the attention the team will receive if it reaches its many goals.
“My career at Wildwood Catholic’s been great,” White said. “I couldn’t ask for a better career. But I just want us to win. That’s all that matters.”