Colby White’s first phone call with Centralia College men’s basketball associate coach Jonathan McMillan caught his interest. But it was the Zoom call soon after in May with McMillan, head coach Jason Moir and another recruit that ultimately won White over.
“After that call I just knew right away that Centralia was the place,” White said. “They just explained everything so well, they explained what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go with the program. It just sounded like it was a perfect fit.”
White, a senior point guard at Central Kitsap High in Silverdale, Washington, had found his landing spot. He eventually texted coach Moir to verbally commit and later signed his National Letter of Intent. It helped that his AAU teammate, Kyler Kelso of South Kitsap High School, was also in that Zoom call and had also signed with the Trailblazers.
“That’s one of my good buddies,” White said.
White is no average point guard. He was named the Kitsap Sun’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year after averaging 19.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.9 steals per game. That came on the heels of earning South Sound Conference MVP after leading the West Sound in scoring and piloting the Cougars to their first state berth in 16 years — since 2004.
“White brings the ability to score at all three levels and play on-the-ball and off-the-ball,” McMillan said. “Very well-coached and comes from a program of winning. Former league MVP, so anytime you can bring that in it automatically makes us better.”
White went from junior varsity as a freshman straight to starting point guard on varsity his sophomore year. He spent his sophomore and junior campaigns as mainly a distributor, a Chris Paul-type. He had a breakout season as a junior, averaging 14.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists on 36 percent shooting from the field while helping the Cougars to a 14-8 record.
But it was heading into his senior year, when the Cougars were losing six seniors, that he knew he needed to take his game to the next level. He was the only senior starter and one of just two returning starters.
“That summer I knew I had to step up and do a majority of the scoring,” White said. “My dad knew that, too, so we just put a lot of work in over the summer, got a lot of shots up and just developed my offensive game through that.”
White’s offensive prowess skyrocketed as he registered double-digit scoring in all 27 of Central Kitsap’s games while shooting a scorching hot 44 percent from the field. It culminated in a career-high 35 points against Shorecrest in the regional round of the 3A state tournament.
The Cougars (18-9) went on to become the first Kitsap County team to play in the Tacoma Dome in a decade. Their run eventually ended in a first-round loss to perennial power Marysville-Pilchuck.
It was an impressive run for White, who at 5-foot-8 was almost always guaranteed to face taller and heavier competition — especially at the Class 3A level. Just don’t tell him that size matters. He’s spent his entire career proving it doesn’t.
“That stuff always just makes me mad,” White said. “When I’m out there I feel I’m as big as everyone else. That size factor never comes to mind when I’m playing. I’m just out there to play basketball and if I work harder than the other person then the size factor is not going to be an issue.”
White now prepares to begin his college career with the Trailblazers, a team looking to pull itself from the bottom of the Northwest Athletic Conference West Region. The Blazers finished the 2019-20 season 11-17 overall and 6-8 in league play, finishing sixth out of eight teams in the West Region.
The Blazers lose only four sophomores, all of whom averaged 10-plus points and 23-plus minutes per game. Also gone are freshmen Kobe Matsen (11.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 blocks) and Jerry Boston (10.3 points and 25 minutes a game). Returning is leading scorer L’Marcus Walker (13.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, four assists).
White, who already has his Associate of Arts Degree, said he’s looking forward to being a part of a new group that will hopefully turn the program around and into the forefront of the West Region.
“I’m just excited to get the chance to play at the next level with a good group of guys at a great program,” White said.