Isaac White made his presence felt in game two of the season with his a game-winning layup to lift the River Hawks past Sacred Heart at the Tsongas Center. (Photo courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics)
If you want to buy him a drink, you need to wait until April 2018. But if you want him to run baseline to baseline, be a floor general and occasionally pull up for a mid-range jumpshot Isaac White is your man.
In case you are unaware, the UMass Lowell Men’s Basketball squad has potentially the best point guard in America East, and he is only 18 years old. White came in as one of eight freshmen this season, but has since supplanted himself as not just the starting point guard, but the future of UMass Lowell basketball.
“He’s a great point guard,” said UMass Lowell head coach Pat Duquette. “I think when you look at his statistics the first thing that jumps out at you are points, and that’s what everybody notices the most. But he’s carried the huge responsibility of playing point guard as a freshmen and running our team.”
As a first-year player, White’s numbers are impressive. He is second on the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game and leads the team in 3-pointers made at 60 – second is Matt Harris only at 48. Not only is he leading the team from beyond the arc, but White is doing so at an impressive 44.1 percent – good for second-best in America East.
Much of what White does right does not show up in the box score. This season has been as much about the wins the team has been able to compile, as it has the emergence of White.
“He’s a quiet leader, mostly by example,” said Duquette. “He’s a very mature kid on and off the floor. He’s a good person. He’s unselfish, very caring, and very humble. Those are great qualities to have not just as a basketball player but as a person, and I think his teammates recognize that and give him a lot of respect just because of the person he is.”
The season has been a transition for White, who, like many other freshmen around the league, had to make the big jump to Division I ball. While he has made that transition look easy, coming in at only 6 foot tall and 165 pounds can be seen as a disadvantage.
While the freshmen–senior gap in high school is noticeable, the college equivalent is comparable to boys against men.
“The physicality of Division I is a lot more intense,” said White. “Playing in high school, everyone was around my size.”
White grew up in Ashland, Ohio, a small town 67 miles down I-71 from Cleveland. Before coming to UMass Lowell, White led his high school to a 22-2 record, and the Ohio Cardinal Conference Championship as a senior.
“I played in a league that was competitive, but it was not the top league in the state or anything,” said White. “There was AAU, too. I played in that on the national level. That definitely prepared me for UML.”
His play in high school certainly caught the eye of UMass Lowell recruiters, but even they could not have imagined the player White has transformed into in just 25 games.
Athleticism is not a gift only Isaac has in the White household. Isaac’s father, Matt, played Division III basketball in college, while his mother, Julie, played high school sports. White always knew that basketball was his love, and his parents were supportive and on board.
“My dad was a high school basketball coach, so I was always in the gym with him shooting,” said White. “I just love the game. I kind of told my dad I wanted to be a really good basketball player, so he made sure to push me. My dad was my coach growing up through elementary school and a little bit of AAU. When I got to high school he helped as an assistant coach.”
Isaac’s brother Elijah also shares a love for basketball. Elijah is currently in the seventh grade, and may potential be a River Hawk in the future.
“I usually try to beat him one-on-one just to try to get him better,” White said with a smile. “He’s always in the gym shooting too, and he loves coming to the games.”
Basketball is a team sport, but every possession starts with the ball in the point guard’s hands. The point guard is not necessarily the best player on a team, but he/she is the one to get the offense started.
White is a both scorer and a playmaker with the ball in his hands.
“He can shoot the ball, and he’s a real good decision-maker,” said Harris. “Playing with him this year has definitely made me want to take more pride in my shot. He’s fun to be around on and off the court. He knows when it’s time to be serious, and he knows when to joke around and have fun with the team. He’s just a great kid, and I’m glad that we have him.”
The future is nothing but bright for White here at UMass Lowell. As the NCAA Division I eligibility transition lifts after next season, White will be here to lead the River Hawks to the next step.
“Our junior year Jahad [Thomas] will be a senior,” said White. “We have a good core of young guys now, and I really think that we can make a run at the NCAA tournament.”
It is unclear what roster changes might happen between now and the NCAA postseason-eligible years, but Duquette is confident and more than pleased with the point guard he will have when that transition is made.
“I see him as being one of the best players to ever come through this school,” said Duquette. “I don’t mean to put that pressure on him, but he’s that good, and I know he’s going to work hard every day.”
Up and down the hallways and athletic facilities of UMass Lowell, White is the new blue.