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Bellport’s Jarell White practices geometry in motion on the boards

Jarell White doing what he does best, playing

Jarell White doing what he does best, playing under the boards for undefeated Bellport. Credit: Bob Sorensen

For Bellport power forward Jarell White, basketball is like geometry. It’s all about measuring the angles.

White, 6-3 and a muscular 230, has strong hands, a nose for the ball and a wide body that he uses to establish position down low and play his own personal game of catch-and-shoot whenever he or a teammate misses a shot that caroms off the glass.

“I work on the angles a lot. My cousin, Richard Brown, is our JV coach and he’s always doing drills with me,” said White, a junior who was a Newsday second-team All-Long Island selection last year. “He throws it off the backboard — left-right, right-left — to work on my timing on rebounds.”

It’s not unusual for White to outmuscle or outhustle multiple taller opponents in traffic to gather in a rebound and convert a putback, almost always using the glass. Sometimes it will take two or three attempts, but with his quick-jumping ability and impeccable timing, he is money on the bank.

“I try to hit the top square every time,” White said, referencing the white square above the rim on glass backboards. “I do a lot of drills working on hitting that spot so I can finish around the basket. I’ll get position and, from playing with my teammates in practice, I know if they’re going to miss right or left, or if it’s going to be an air ball.”

Bellport assistant coach Kai Watkins noted, “You can see he’s pretty good at being in the right spot every single time, but it’s not magic. He puts in the time and the work to know where the misses are going.”

White’s relentless offensive rebounding has helped him average 12.9 boards and 27.8 points (fourth best on Long Island) for the Clippers, Suffolk’s only undefeated team with a 12-0 overall record and 7-0 League IV mark. The AA classification in Suffolk this season is deep, with teams such as Half Hollow Hills East, Deer Park, Smithtown West and Brentwood the preseason favorites. But look who is standing alone without a single loss: Bellport.

“I knew everyone would overlook us,” White said, “but that just added fuel to our fire. Our plan was to wake everybody up.”

White issued the wake-up call to his teammates, led by Kyleim Robinson (19.3 points per game) and Teandre Roundtree (9.7), in his own distinctive, quiet way.

“We like that he shows no emotion and never complains, even when he’s getting hit a lot. We know the refs can’t call every foul,” Watkins said. “He’s all business on the court and that inspires his teammates. He’s really a nonverbal leader through his actions.”

Those actions mostly take place in the low box, where White often is smaller than the forwards or centers trying to defend him. He’s frequently double-teamed, with a defender stationed in front and back of him. It’s not a deterrent.

“I trust my teammates to get me the ball,” White said. “If I keep moving around, I know they’ll eventually find me.”

White’s motor is always running, and he added 15 pounds of muscle since the end of his sophomore year. That also explains his interior success even though he’s undersized for the position. “I just try to get everything that’s in front of me. That’s my mentality,” he said. “Sometimes I pick up over-the-back fouls from being too aggressive and trying to get every rebound.”

His coach, Pete Grossi, appreciates White’s determination. “In my 27 years of coaching,’’ he said, “Jarell White may be the best player I have ever coached.”

Opposing coaches appreciate his talent and his tenacity. “He’s gotten bigger and better each year and he plays the game the right way,” said Central Islip coach Larry Butzke, whose Musketeers lost a 74-71 thriller on Dec. 15 when White scored 28 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. “He makes good decisions, and when he gets position, he finishes and gets the three-point play. He’s hard to stop. He’s not flashy. He’s just a worker who gets the job done. And he’s so quiet about it. He is a true gentleman.”

White’s quiet humility — he seeks out opposing coaches before and after games for a handshake and friendly greeting — comes from his mother, Shulanda Trent, who attends his games with a flock of relatives. When White scored his 1,000th career point on Jan. 12, 25 family members gathered at center court after the game for a photo. “My mom is my best friend. She’s always saying ‘stay humble, stay humble’ and ‘don’t get a big head.’ She hasn’t missed a game yet,” White said. “I love my family to death. For them to come out and support me means the world to me.”

A world that may spin in a different direction next season, when White hopes to attract some college interest. An amazing fact regarding his 1,000-plus points is that he has never attempted a single three-point shot. “But I will,” he said with a grin. “I’m working on my perimeter shot and my guard skills in the offseason, because at the next level, I’ll have to play guard.”

Just a new angle for White to work.

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