Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida State Seminoles freshman, former Clearwater High star Okaro White gains minutes as he gains weight

FSU freshman and former Clearwater High star Okaro White, left, scores against another former Tampa Bay prep standout, North Carolina sophomore John Henson out of Sickles.

Associated Press

FSU freshman and former Clearwater High star Okaro White, left, scores against another former Tampa Bay prep standout, North Carolina sophomore John Henson out of Sickles.

The area under a basket is a confined space where tall guys collide. That gave Okaro White a distinct advantage in high school. He dominated for three seasons at Clearwater as a post player because, at 6 feet 8, he was taller than everyone else.

But that wasn't enough for White to thrive once he got to Florida State. Playing against athletes who might have been linebackers or defensive ends in another era, the freshman knew his size would be just as important as his height if he hoped to score near the basket.

White has not turned himself into a copycat of his brawnier teammates, and he still looks like a pencil next to some of his opponents in the ACC, which starts its conference tournament today. The Seminoles, the No. 3 seed, face the Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech winner at 9 p.m. Friday.

But there is no question White has bulked up and begun to resemble what a modern-day college forward should look like. Through a strenuous weight-training program that had him lifting six days a week in the offseason, White has reached 201 pounds, 18 above his usual playing weight as a senior in high school.

"I knew I needed to get stronger, and I worked hard this summer," he said. "The coaches wanted me to get bigger, and I did, too. I'm never going to be that super big, massive dude. But the size has helped."

As White's shoulders, triceps and biceps have expanded, so has his role. In January he had a steal that sealed FSU's win over then-No. 1 Duke. Last month he tied for the team lead in points (17) and led the team in rebounds (seven) in a win over Miami.

"This season has been great for me," White said. "It's definitely more than I expected."

With injuries to the frontcourt, a more robust White has been the answer to the Seminoles' deficiencies down low. Another benefit of White's added upper-body strength is that he has been able to stay healthy. He was hobbled by an ankle injury his senior season at Clearwater.

"(White) has played well beyond his years this season, yet he still has so much to learn and so much room to grow," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "He has not even scratched the surface of where we expect him to be during the remainder of his career at Florida State."

To win the ACC tournament title, FSU will have to maneuver through a difficult schedule that could provide White with matchups against other former Tampa Bay area standouts.

Gabe Moton, from St. Petersburg, is a key reserve for No. 5 seed Boston College. Top-seeded North Carolina is led by John Henson, from Sickles High, who this week was named the ACC's defensive player of year.

Then there's Luke Loucks, a former Clearwater two-sport athlete who has been with the Seminoles three seasons. White played with Loucks for two seasons at Clearwater. Loucks got White interested in going to FSU. In 2009 White attended the ACC tournament to cheer on Loucks.

"Luke is a great guy and has been a real mentor for me," White said. "It was nice having somebody already up here who could show me where my classes were, basically just show me the ropes."

Still, having a former high school teammate around wasn't enough to keep White from getting homesick. As the grueling workouts stretched into the fall, White constantly thought about visiting his mom, Charmine, in Clearwater.

"My family has been up to see me, and my mom makes sure everything is straight where I live," White said. "But about three months out, I was really missing home. Then the season came, and that kind of went away, mostly because I was back on the court playing the sport that I love."

Locals in the ACC tournament

Player, year High school/College Avg.

Okaro White, Fr. Clearwater/FSU 6.5 ppg/3.2 rpg

Luke Loucks, Jr. Clearwater/FSU 3.1 ppg/2.2 apg

John Henson, So. Sickles/North Carolina 11.3 ppg/9.7 rpg

Gabe Moton, Fr. St. Petersburg/Boston College 2.5 ppg

Florida State Seminoles freshman, former Clearwater High star Okaro White gains minutes as he gains weight 03/09/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 11:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs suspended RB Doug Martin breaks his silence and says his drug problem is 'definitely behind me.'

    Blogs

    He would not talk about the drug he abused. He didn’t identify the rehab facility he entered last January or how long he was there.

    Doug Martin was contrite but optimistic about returning to the form he demonstrated as the NFL's second leading rusher two years ago.
  2. Kickoff times announced for Florida-Michigan, FSU-Alabama

    Blogs

    College football's blockbuster Sept. 2 season openers finally have kickoff times.

  3. Why not Kaepernick?: Ryan Fitzpatrick could be ‘Earl Morrall to Jameis Winston’s Bob Griese’

    Blogs

    As the football world continues to question the Bucs’ motives for signing Ryan Fitzpatrick over Colin Kaepernick as Jameis Winston’s backup, veteran NFL writer Rick Gosselin weighs in with this post titled “The Bucs are playing a mind …

    The Bucs want Ryan Fitzpatrick to mentor Jameis Winston.
  4. This tweet from the Bucs, mocking the Falcons' 28-3 lead they lost in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, prompted a public apology from head coach Dirk Koetter, who called it "unprofessional and not smart."
  5. For starters: Rays looking to get even with Angels, with no TV

    Blogs

    The Rays are looking for a split in the four-game series with the Angels in today's 1:10 matinee, a game that is not on TV in the Tampa Bay market.

    RHP Matt Andriese will start for the Rays, seeking to go deeper than his last start, when he was ejected after hitting New York's Aaron Judge with his first pitch …

    Matt Andriese will start for the Rays.