VUU fans get Christmas gift in Jordan White
Fred Jeter | 12/28/2018, 6 a.m.
Virginia Union University basketball fans received a “White Christmas” in a way they weren’t expecting.
Wrapped in maroon and steel colored ribbons, Jordan White was the Panthers’ surprise package heading into holiday break.
After settling for cameo roles earlier, White, a 6-foot-6 sophomore from Frederick, Md., came off the bench Dec. 15 with a showing in Barco-Stevens Hall that fans won’t soon forget.
“I was happy for Jordan. He made some huge shots,” said VUU Coach Jay Butler of White’s effort against visiting Livingstone College.
“We’ve known all along how good a player he is. We’ve been waiting on him to have a game like that,” Coach Butler said.
For three seasons now, Coach Butler had been raving about White’s potential. Against the CIAA Blue Bears, White turned his potential into productivity.
VUU’s D.C. connection
Virginia Union University basketball Panthers from the Greater Washington area:
• Eric Bowles, Alexandria, Va.
• Demarius Pitts, Clinton, Md.
• DeAndre Thomas, Camp Springs, Md.
• Jordan Thornton, Fredericksburg, Va.
• Jordan White, Frederick, Md.
• Dante Yancey, Oxon Hill, Md.
“I’d been struggling with my scoring. I might have lost some confidence,” White said.
Confidence began to return as he hit one shot, then another and another, from all angles and distances.
“Against Livingstone, I was happy to get back on my groove and help the team,” he said. “I feel like I have an in-and-out game, but I like getting started inside.”
Before the Livingstone game, White had never scored in double digits as a Panther. He served as a backup in 2016-2017, then was red-shirted last season.
That dubious streak ended as he tallied 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, 3 of 4 from behind the arc and 3 of 4 at the foul line, as VUU broke a three-game losing skid.
Filling up the statistics sheet, White added six rebounds, two blocked shots, a steal and assist as VUU rolled to an 82-76 victory.
But White wasn’t through. Before heading north to Maryland for the holiday, he had some last-minute scoring to do before Christmas.
White followed up his career outing with 10 points in just 15 minutes in the Panthers’ 79-65 home win over Johnson C. Smith University on Dec. 17.
The uplifting, back-to-back victories enable VUU to take a 5-6 overall mark into the holidays, with a 2-1 record in the CIAA so far.
Coach Butler’s squad doesn’t play again until Thursday, Jan. 3, at Queens University of Charlotte.
White signed with VUU out of Clinton Christian School in Upper Marlboro, Md., just east of Washington.
Not coincidentally, current VUU freshman star Demarius Pitts (team best 17.5 scoring average) hails from Frederick Douglass High in Clinton, Md., also in Prince George’s County.
This isn’t by accident. Coach Butler is a Washington native who built recruiting contacts in Greater Washington while serving as the women’s basketball coach for 11 seasons at the University of the District of Columbia.
While Pitts has been an overnight sensation at VUU, the Panthers had to wait for White’s emergence. The wing forward saw action as a freshman but was red-shirted a year ago. Jokingly, players refer to it as being “stuck in cold storage.”
Chilly red-shirted players can practice with the team but don’t play — or even dress — on game night, making for a frosty winter.
“It was very tough,” White said of his season sitting out. “But there’s always a bigger picture. It’s going to work out in the end.”
VUU won the CIAA basketball title last winter with seven seniors playing prominent roles. White, after waiting his turn, expects no less than a repeat this season.
“Our goal is the same — to be playing on Saturday night,” said White, referencing the CIAA Tournament’s traditional Saturday night championship game.
Longtime VUU fans might venture as far as to suggest winning the CIAA is almost like Christmas in March.