Chaska (Minn.) High forward Jake White can score — a 48-point game proves that. He throws an outlet pass that Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall can't wait to use starting his fast breaks.
As a senior, his biggest improvement might be coming in areas that aren't so splashy. Leadership is one of his most important contributions. White, a 6-foot-7 forward, signed with WSU in November.
"He's being much, much more vocal," Chaska coach Dana Kallman said. "When the guys huddle, he'll be the one speaking. When an underclassmen makes a great play, he's the first one shouting out. That really helps the chemistry."
Kallman said leading isn't hard for White, who is involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other activities that help. As a junior, he deferred to seniors. This season, he realized the responsibility fell to him.
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"It's very different being a captain as a senior," White said. "Last year, I was a captain, but I could look to my seniors for support."
Chaska is 13-3 and on target for its goal of making the state tournament. White averages 27 points and 13.1 rebounds.
"It's been a really, really good year," he said. "Our team is really starting to bond and we have a lot of chemistry."
White helps the chemistry in a lot of ways. He doesn't need a lot of shots to score big because he draws fouls. In addition to 48 points and 18 rebounds in a win over Apple Valley in December, White owns games of 39, 34 and 34 points. Yet Kallman says White is often the kind of scorer who doesn't stand out until the box score arrives.
"He can score from all different parts of the floor," Kallman said.
White is working on defense, knowing he could play big forward or small forward at WSU. He will need to guard shooters in college.
"He's buying into it a little more," Kallman said. "He's got to learn how to guard a perimeter guy."
While White is plenty busy with Chaska, he does record and watch all the Shocker games on regional and national TV.
On the floor — If you've missed the Graham Hatch you grew to love on the basketball court — the guy who threw his body around with disregard for safety — you're not alone.
Hatch misses that guy, too.
He's not flying after loose balls and rebounds. He's not happy with his shooting or his defense.
He thinks he's figured out his problems and wants to play like he did most of his career. Since MVC games started, he's often played tentatively, forcing Marshall to end his streak of 56 straight starts.
"I realize what I need to do now, and I need to catch on to the aggressiveness I've had most of my time here," Hatch said. "I did a little bit of that at Southern Illinois (Wednesday) and the game went better for me."
Foul trouble helped start his slump. He played 14 minutes, finishing with four fouls, in the MVC opener against Evansville. Against Bradley, he had two fouls in the first 11 minutes and again played 14. Then he struggled guarding Drake freshman Rayvonte Rice in WSU's third MVC game.
Slumps are born from such stretches, even for seniors.
"I made some mistakes in a couple games and I think that mentally has gotten me down, to where I haven't been as aggressive," he said. "That's a selfish thing for me to do, to get down and not move on to the next play."
There is plenty of season remaining for Hatch to regain his reputation for ridiculous hustle. He played 28 minutes against SIU and was part of the group that produced a 16-0 run that turned that game in WSU's favor.
"If I just focus on being aggressive, and not questioning or doubting myself in any way, going after everything, I think I'll be able to help my team out a little more," he said. "Basketball is all about momentum, getting in a rhythm. A game like (SIU) can really help me out."
Worth noting — Marshall's annual fund-raiser is May 7 (dinner and auction at Koch Arena) and 9 (golf at the Wichita Country Club). For information, call 978-5553.... ESPNU (Ch. 244) will carry the announcement of BracketBusters TV games at 5:30 p.m. Monday.... Southern Illinois pitcher Lee Weld, a sophomore scheduled to be the closer, will miss the season after having surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder.