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Eastside Catholic's White plays basketball for England
A quick word with Skyler White and there’s no detection of an accent — nothing to indicate he’s not an every-day American teenager.
Just a couple of weeks ago, however, the Eastside Catholic junior traveled overseas to do something very few born in the United States will ever do.
“I’ve experienced West Coast basketball, I’ve experienced East Coast basketball, I guess now I’ve experienced it all,” said White, who competed on England’s U-18 Junior National team over winter break.
The 6-foot-7 forward/guard sort of fell into his unique opportunity on a college recruiting trip this past fall.
“It some how came up that my dad was Scottish and had citizenship and he was like ‘I know the coach of the English team, I can call him and talk to him about you if you want,’” White said.
A tip from the coach, followed by a series of e-mails, video tape submissions and extensive paperwork, and White was cleared to play basketball for his father’s homeland.
“It was something I had thought about years and years ago, but never knew it would come to fruition,” said Stuart White. “It was just a series of good luck that came our way.”
Skyler was the only American, and one of four athletes on the 12-player roster from another country. One came from Australia, and two others came from Spain.
“Everybody had the British accent so a couple of times I had to go, ‘wait, what did you say?’” he said. “I didn’t understand some of the slang, but after a while I was surprised I didn’t start talking with an accent.”
Skyler didn’t just show up in England. He performed so well that he was asked to join the team again this summer when they travel to Virginia, and again for the European Championships this July in Bulgaria.
“It gave me a chance to grow basketball-wise,” Skyler said.
In five tournament games, he averaged close to 10 points and double-digit rebounds, helping England’s U-18 team to a perfect 5-0 record and the Haris Memorial Tournament championship.
According to Stuart, Skyler really made an impact in the championship game against last year’s winners, the Manchester Magic. He earned 25 minutes of playing time after his coach asked him go in and shut down the other team’s 7-foot talent. He did just that, helping England to a 73-49 victory.
“It was a lot different than basketball over here,” Skyler said. “It was faster, it was lights out shooting, it was really cool.”
As for what’s next on the national front, there’s no telling for sure what the future holds for Skyler. Scouts were on hand for Great Britain’s 2016 Olympic team, however, possibly opening even a larger door — one that includes names like the Chicago Bulls’ Luol Deng and the University of Washington’s Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
“Having your kid play for the national team, that’s great,” Stuart said. “Having your kid play for the Olympic, that’s a whole different level. We don’t know how that will work out, but at least he’s on the radar screen.”
And, if nothing more were to come from the whole experience, well, that’s just fine too.
“It was one of those things we couldn’t pass up,” Stuart said. “If it doesn’t go anywhere you can always say, he played this one time.”