White began his historic performance on Wednesday night when Greenfield topped Kinston High School, 85-63, in the tournament’s opening round. White finished with 46 points in that game — tying Penny Hardaway for the fourth-most points scored in the annual Raleigh tournament.
“I just go out there and play my game,” White said. “Double teaming — I’m used to it by now. So, it really doesn’t faze me like that anymore.”
In the semifinal game Thursday afternoon, Greenfield edged past Broughton High School, 59-57. Broughton had a chance to win with 13.4 seconds left in the game but turned it over. White jumped on the loose ball to help Greenfield prevail. He chalked up 32 points in that contest.
Both performances led up to the grand finale on Saturday night: a game in which White needed 38 points to shatter Williams’ scoring record.
“I knew how many I needed,” White said. “But I didn’t pay any attention to it. I didn’t even think I had that many because I was missing so many layups — layups that I should’ve made.”
There was a sold out crowd at Broughton High School’s Holliday Gym on Saturday night. White’s future coach, Roy Williams, was sitting courtside, a few hours removed from an ACC-opener win over Wake Forest. The stage was set for it to be one of the biggest games of White’s high school career.
“(The John Wall Holiday Invitational) is an unbelievable atmosphere,” White said. “It’s something that I’ve never played in, even with AAU. I think a lot of us grew up during this. Even me, I grew up a lot. It was just a great tournament.”
With just seconds remaining in the championship game, White was handed the ball near halfcourt. He then drove from the right wing, blowing by a Garner defender and splitting two more on his way to an and-one finish at the rim.
White sank the free throw that followed. The crowd at Holliday Gym erupted. The old tournament scoring record was no more. However, even as the crowd roared, White shrugged his shoulders. He was baffled and upset.
“We were losing,” White said. “Nothing else really mattered to me in that moment. I wanted to win. At the end of the day, we lost. So, all that scoring didn’t matter.”
White’s mindset and attitude, even after such an achievement, is perhaps a preview to the kind of person the Tar Heels are getting in him next season.
“It defines exactly who he is,” Salter said. “It’s all about team, it’s all about winning. He didn’t care about the record. He had no clue. People were talking about it in the stands and he didn’t care. He was just fighting for that whole 32 minutes.”
White took home the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honors. He averaged 39.7 points through Greenfield’s three games.
“You watched a special, special week from a special, special player,” Salter said. “Something you haven’t seen in (almost) 30 years. And probably something you won’t see in another 30 years.”