BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Surely one of the top high school basketball players in the state of Florida would expect to receive a scholarship offer from a Division I university, wooing him to bring his talent to their campus. Many of the letters have already come; yet, student-athlete Jalen White is on the offensive in securing his place at the college of his choice.
Jalen spent the week participating in a College Planning Boot Camp guided by Dr. Mychal Wynn and his wife, Nina. The four-day camp focused on connecting students to different colleges or universities based on their academic performance, gifts, talents and financial need.
The boot camp’s curriculum guide students to an individualized plan of action in identifying clear and obtainable goals with specific directions to selecting the school for choice and reducing college cost.
Proud parents Ann and David White
“Because Jalen has always been focused on his grades, when I read the information regarding the boot camp and its contents, I knew this was logically a next step and a fantastic opportunity for an athlete that is equally focused on being a basketball player as he is being a scholar,” said Ann Sherman-White, Jalen’s mother.
Jalen is a 6’6”, 240-pound small forward at Lakewood High School who frequently plays point guard. His muscular build resembles that of a football linebacker. During the summer, he is usually on the road competing in a top-tier basketball camp or an elite invitational tournament where college coaches scout for players who can help their athletic program.
His dad, David White, a 1987 McDonald’s All-American, monitors the competition. As a 10th grader, he was invited to Victor Oladipo camp at DeMatha Catholic High School’s campus located near the University of Maryland.
On the AAU circuit, Jalen played with the Nike shoe sponsored team “Each One Teach One” and now the Adidas sponsored team “Florida Sons.” His travel schedule includes competition in Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C. and California.
Jalen recognizes his value is more than just basketball.
“The fact is I could get hurt or some unforeseen circumstance, so I need to keep my options open. There is a lot of information that I did not know that could be helpful for college,” stated Jalen. “I learned there are many academic financial opportunities that are left on the table. I have my parents, but I want to be informed so that I am a part of a sound decision as it relates to my future.”
During the boot camp, Jalen became intrigued with learning about college diversity weekend programs typically called “fly in” or multicultural programs. Universities offer two to three-day college tours for prospective or admitted students from underrepresented backgrounds.
Some schools invite all students to apply but give preference to low-income students. How exciting could his basketball recruitment visits become with the added possibility of academic incentives?
After attending the College Planning Boot Camp, the options are open to Jalen to use the merits of a book or ball to get him into the college of his choice.
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