Jesse White soars with Team Fly
SALEM — Barlow High senior Jesse White is spending the summer on the elite AAU circuit priming himself for his upcoming final season in a Bruins' uniform.
Last weekend, White helped his Jordan Fly Select squad reach the finals of The Hoop Circuit Summer Championships in Salem, matching much of the top talent from along the West Coast.
"It's big, but you just gotta play," White said. "You take care of what you can control, and the recruiting process will take its course."
White, ranked as the state's No. 2 recruit in the 2020 class by prephoops.com showcased his scoring ability by knocking down 7 of 11 (63.6%) of his shots for a team-high 20 points in Jordan Fly's 75-64 loss to The Lakeshow in a pool-play game to open the tournament Friday night in Salem.
He sank a deep 3 from closer to midcourt than the 3-point line to put up the team's first points of the night. He stayed hot, finishing a drive into the lane and sinking another deep ball from in front of the Lakeshow bench to account for 8 of his team's first 11 points.
The Jordan Fly squad was down four late in the first half when the Lakeshow reeled off the next three buckets to build a 29-20 lead.
White re-entered the game with less than two minutes in the half. He led a fast break that resulted in a quick bucket, then sank a pull-up 3 from the top of the arc. In a matter of seconds, the gap was back to four points.
"You have to find that median between scoring and getting everyone involved," White said. "Everyone out here is 'The Guy' on their school team."
The Lakeshow would break away after intermission, building a 23-point margin with five minutes to play.
But even in a lopsided game, college scouts still have eyes on the action.
White scooped up a loose ball and beat everyone down the floor, extending the ball in an outstretched hand to finish the layup. Moments later, White was breaking toward the basket again, collecting a deep pass and leaping between a pair of defenders to get to the rim again.
Jordan Fly scored seven points in half-a-minute, and that was just the start.
White squared up at the top of the arc, attracted attention then shifted a pass to the side where a teammate drained an open 3. Coming out of a timeout, Jordan Fly forced a turnover in the backcourt, and White drilled an open 3 from the right side, letting his arm hang in the air as his shot trickled through the net.
Jordan Fly was within six with 1:17 to play.
That was as close as it would get, as the Lakeshow knocked down free throws down the stretch to take the win.
Jordan Fly returned to the court Saturday and opened bracket play with an 81-78 win over the younger Lakeshow 16s squad. In Saturday's late-night game, Jordan Fly picked up its most decisive win of the weekend 70-49 over Deep III.
Jordan Fly won 71-68 over Select Black in Sunday's semifinals before falling 81-56 to Select Red in the bracket championship game for the 17U Open Division.
White caught the attention of college coaches long ago with his scoring ability — shooting range beyond the NBA arc, while also capable of beating defenders off the dribble. White's focus over the summer has been to build his game on the other end of the court.
"The biggest thing coaches are telling me is to focus on my defensive game," White said. "It's about building that I.Q. and knowing what is going on around you."
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College game moves back the 3-point arc
Knocking down 3s just became more difficult in the college game at least, with the NCAA approving a rule change that puts the arc at the international distance of 22-feet-1.75-inches — back almost a foot-and-a-half from the previous college line.
"Players tend to stand on that line, so if anything moving it out will create space," Gresham coach Erik Lyslo said. "Coaches love having that extra space for their half-court offense."
At the upper levels of the sport, the 3-pointer is no longer the realm of pure shooters.
During his 11-year NBA career (1985-95), center Manute Bol attempted 205 deep balls. In the current crop of NBA centers, Meyers Leonard surpassed that total in a single season — twice — in limited playing time with Portland. Leonard is shooting at a 38.5% clip over his career — almost twice as accurate as the splindly Bol.
"It's become such a huge part of the game, but I think this will help shooters. Not everyone will be able to extend their range out like that," Gresham High senior Ethan Abrahamson said. "I practice shooting 3s from anywhere, so I'll adjust to it easily."
"Changes like that happen. Guys have gotten so good on that line, it's time to move it back," White said. "It doesn't bother me at all. I feel confident from deep. I just have to figure out how far away I am and put it in."
Both Abrahamson and White are on the recruiting radar, looking to make the jump to the college game after completing their upcoming senior seasons.
While the college game is making a marked change to its courts, the National Federation of High Schools will continue with the traditional arc of 19-9, which it first implemented in 1987.
Asked what a good 3-ball feels like, White explained.
"It's like 2K when your shot goes green — the ball leaves your hand and you just know it's going in," White said.
This story is slated for our Tuesday, July 23, print edition.
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