CHS girls hoops camp will feature former camper now a Euro league player
Local players will have the opportunity to learn from and interact with a professional next week when the Columbus High girls summer basketball camp tips off on Tuesday.
And it’s a player who has been in the campers shoes before.
Chatrice White, a McDonald’s All-American in her time at Shelby-Rising City, will be on the staff of instructors for the camp that begins Tuesday and runs through Friday.
White was heavily recruited out of Shelby, where she led the Huskies to a mark of 87-9 in her four seasons, scored over 2,000 points and set every S-RC program record of significance.
She was a two-time First Team Super State selection by the Lincoln Journal Star, Huskerland Prep’s C-2 player of the year for three straight seasons and a First Team All-State honoree two years in a row by the Associated Press.
In her sophomore year, she averaged a double-double while leading Shelby-Rising city to its only state tournament appearance in 2012.
Now she’s returning to the area after her first professional season in Europe following a college career split between Illinois and Florida State.
Just about 15 years ago, she was the one lacing up her sneakers and coming to Columbus to take part in the camp.
It’s a fact not lost on White, who maybe doesn’t exactly call herself a role model, but nonetheless recognizes the uniqueness of her story and how it can affect youngsters who live in the area.
“I really don’t think about it too much. But my parents and family members and friends from the community talk about how big of an influence and a role model I am just coming from a small town. I don’t really think of it that way,” White said.
“If anything, it reminds me that I do have a bigger platform because of how far I’ve come and my journey to get there.”
White committed to Illinois out of SR-C, where she set an Illini freshman scoring record, led the Big 10 in double-doubles as a sophomore and was named to the All-Freshman team and All-Conference Second Team the following season.
At Florida State, White was the ACC Sixth Player of the Year in 2017 and was in the top 10 in rebounding, blocked shots, offensive rebounds per game and defensive rebounds per game.
Once her college career was over, White wasn’t ready to give up her love for the game. She hired an agent and found her way to Slovenia on the roster of Cinkarna Celje, in the city of Celje.
“I wasn’t ready yet (to be done). I figured I had a few more years left in my knees and my ankles, so I thought I’d give it a go,” she joked. “I figured I could travel the world this way and still get to play the game I love.”
Slovenian women’s pro basketball was a slight adjustment from the American brand of hoops she grew up with. Only White and one other girl on the team were from the USA.
Her coach, Damir Grgic, also the coach of the Slovenia women’s national team, spoke English, as did everyone on the team, except when he was angry or intense. Those moments required translation from a teammate.
White calls women’s basketball overseas more of a ‘freelance’ style than in the states.
It’s refereed differently, the pace is different and practices aren’t quite the same.
The season runs from early September to late April and includes competitions in three different leagues, the Slovenian National League, the WABA, also known as the Adriatic League, and the EuroCup women’s league.
It’s similar to European club soccer where teams play in the home league of the country and in international competitions such as the UEFA Champions League.
Cinkarna Celje won the Slovenian National League, took third in the WABA and went 1-5 in EuroCup.
White was named Most Valuable Player in a Cup League game and was the MVP of the five-game Slovenian national tournament that Cinkarna Celje won a five-game series over Akson Ilirija for its 13th national championship.
Celje has been in each of the last five championships and won four times.
White will likely return to European professional basketball next year though her team of choice remains in the decision-making process. Rookies only sign for a year then can agree to multi-year deals after.
Celje wants her back, but she’s letting the process play out.
Those thoughts will be left behind when she takes to the gym on Tuesday.
“First of all, it’s a summer camp, so you want to have fun. But you also want to learn along the way,” she said. “I think it’s pretty cool having a girl look up to because I really didn’t in Shelby.
“I want to throw it out there to them that as long as you work hard and find something that you love to do and want to do it, then there’s nothing stopping you. You can do whatever you want. If you put in the time and have the motivation and the skills, absolutely.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.