The News-Times

White happy with transfer to Penn State

- By David Borges

Jalanni White had put the finishing touches on a solid, four-year career at Canisius last March when he realized he wasn’t quite ready for his collegiate career to end.

Taking advantage of an extra year of eligibilit­y afforded to players due to the pandemic, White entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal and heard from a few schools. Among them: Idaho, Grand Canyon and UMBC. All tempting, but none with the allure of the program he’d hear from over the summer.

When Penn State called and expressed interest in White, the New Haven product’s mind was quickly made up.

“It was a new staff, they were looking for experience­d players to join the team so we could become a winning team,” White recalled. “For me, it was an easy decision.”

White, a 6-foot-8, 205pound forward who once starred at Notre DameWest Haven, certainly hasn’t regretted the choice.

“So far, it’s been fun,” he said last week. “The environmen­t is way different from Canisius, so it’s been a great experience so far.”

White has transferre­d to a school with about 3,000 students to one with over 40,000. From a team that

plays in the MAA= (alongside Quinnipiac and Fairfield, among others) to one that competes in the Big Ten, against nationally­ranked squads like Purdue, Michigan State and Illinois.

“I think any competitor would like to see what they can do at the highest level of college basketball,” White noted. “Everybody’s stronger, everybody’s faster, everybody’s smarter. You’ve really got to play hard when you’re out there, give it your all for 40 minutes.”

He’s also gone from a school that no longer has a football program, to one around whose entire identity practicall­y revolves around football. And yes, White has attended a few games at 106,000-capacity Beaver Stadium.

“They’re a lot of fun,” he reported. “There are crazy people all over the place, the stadium is always packed with people.”

For White, the biggest difference between playing in the MAAC and the Big Ten has been the travel niceties. Chartered flights certainly beat long bus trips through northern New York state.

The biggest highlight so far?

“The crowds of the Big Ten, and the energy they bring to games,” White said.

White, who along with Tremont Waters helped lead Notre Dame-West Haven to its first undefeated season (22-0) in 2016-17, was never a star at Canisius.

After playing sparingly as a freshman, he started all 32 games as a sophomore, averaging 5.9 points per game, and was named to the 2019 MAAC AllChampio­nship Team after averaging 13.5 points in two games.

White averaged a careerbest 7.0 ppg as a junior mostly off the bench, and while he started all 11 games for the Griffs last season, averaged just 3.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per contest.

Predictabl­y, White has primarily been a role player off the bench for firstyear Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberr­y. But his role has been gradually increasing since the start of Big Ten play. White played 21 minutes off the bench against Indiana on Jan. 2 and 19 minutes against Northweste­rn three days later, grabbing a seasonhigh seven rebounds.

He scored a season-best nine points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting (including a 3-pointer) in a close, Jan. 8 loss to seventh-ranked Purdue. He’s bodied up against some of the top players in the country: Purdue’s Trevion Williams, Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell, Indiana’s Trayce JacksoDavi­s. And in the Big Ten, it never stops: Iowa’s Keegan Murray, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson and Illinois’s Kofe Cockburn are among those who remain on the schedule.

The Nittany Lions are 8-7 overall and 3-4 in the league, but have been competitiv­e in most of their games, including a fivepoint loss at No. 16 Ohio State on Sunday.

After this season, White would like to play profession­ally somewhere. But first things first.

“If we listen to what Coach Shrews tells us and play hard,” White predicted, “I think we can be a tournament team.”

Either way, Jalanni White, the competitor, certainly made the right choice on where to extend his college basketball career one more season.

 ?? Penn State Athletics ?? New Haven product Jalanni White transferre­d this season from Canisius to Penn State, where he’s playing a key role off the bench.
Penn State Athletics New Haven product Jalanni White transferre­d this season from Canisius to Penn State, where he’s playing a key role off the bench.

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