Hey there! My name is Skyler White and I am a 6’7” junior shooting guard from Seattle, Washington. I attend Eastside Catholic High School and I play AAU ball for the Riverside Hawks in New York City. I am in a very different situation than most kids my age. My dad and I live in Seattle and my mom works for Viacom and commutes to Manhattan. While this isn’t very traditional, it works and after 31 years they are still happily married. It hasn’t always been like this though. We all lived in Seattle from the time I was born all the way up until the middle of my 8th grade year when we all moved out to New York.
My freshman year I attended Bronxville High School where I was the first freshman to play on the varsity basketball team. It was quite a commute to get from New York City to the Suburbs of Bronxville especially during the season – waking up at 6 – running to catch the 6:50 train – taking the 30 minute train ride – full day of school – practice which usually ended around 7 – sprinting to the train station in the freezing cold in nothing but basketball shorts and a jersey – usually missing the train and having to wait another 20 minutes – then taking the 30 minute train ride and the 40 minute subway until finally getting me home around 9:30 - on a good night. But now in Seattle everyone drives everywhere which is a lot easier than taking the train. Enough of that though, let’s talk about basketball. Basketball has always been my passion! All I need is a ball in my hands and I’m good like a baby and his binky; basketball is my security blanket. When I moved back to Seattle with my dad after my freshman year I was pumped to be at a new school with a new team ready to make a name for myself in my hometown.
This hope was sadly shut down when I discovered that I had two fractures in my back which kept me out almost the entire year. I was in a back brace that wrapped around my torso and a metal bar with a support that was right underneath my chin, all my teammates and coaches started calling me Iron Man because of it. I had to wear that brace for 3 months with no activity what so ever and 5 months of physical therapy. Sitting on the bench while I watched my team play was the worst feeling in the world to me. If they started complaining about how many suicides they had to run during practice I would tell them I would gladly switch places with them. If they weren’t getting calls by the ref during games, I would tell them to not worry about the ref. Just play basketball and enjoy being able to play. I learned a lot from the experience and came out of it physically stronger, mentally tougher and appreciative of being able to play and contribute. Being on the bench I gradually progressed from a player to a coach with the guys. They would listen to me if I had something to say and they would take what I said seriously. This year I’m hoping to be able to lead them like that but on the court.
My AAU team, the Riverside Hawks, is by far my favorite team to play on. We are not a very big team but when we just play like a team and have fun we are unstoppable. We went to a lot of tournaments this past summer including the first event being Hoop Group Elite Camp Session #1 at Albright College in the beginning of July. So here I’m ready to start the summer season and I unfortunately had to miss the camp because the night before I was supposed to leave for camp, I came down with Appendicitis. I had emergency surgery early that morning to have removed. But nothing can keep me off the court and I was back playing in 10 days. My first tournament was Basketbull in Springfield, Massachusetts. We did very well considering the teams that were at this event. We beat the Grassroots team from Canada but lost in the semi-finals to BABC. This was my first little taste of recruitment because after that tournament our coach had a few college scouts talk to him. They were just the first of many. We went to a bunch of other little tournaments in the New York and New Jersey area, as well as Pennsylvania. We finished off the first half of the summer by going to the West Virginia Jam Fest. Our two biggest tournaments were the AAU Showcase and AAU Nationals in Orlando. We had been to AAU Nationals previously and we placed 9th in Division II.
This year we went Division I and we placed 5th. We played many great teams in Orlando – probably one of our favorite wins was when we beat Team Takeover from Canada. Our team is often considered the underdog. This was proven at Showcase when we looked at our bracket a couple hours before that game. They already had Team Takeover beating us and advancing to the next round to play BABC. That was the spark that ignited our fire. We went in to that game knowing that everyone was thinking “these guys don’t stand a chance” but we knew that it was our game. We showed everyone in the gym just how good we are and how much we wanted it. One thing that was really cool about this game was the scouts and the crowd. When the game started off they was the usual crowd of families, friends, another team who wasn’t playing and maybe four or five scouts milling around. As the game progressed the crowd got noticeably larger, louder and the number of scouts grew with every quarter. It was a really cool feeling to have people and teams that you don’t even know cheering for you. I got hot fourth quarter and hit 4 threes in a row. Each time I hit one the cheering just got louder and louder. The funny thing is we didn’t think the scouts were they for us – we thought they came in to watch the IZOD team play after us. We knew we had attracted some serious attention when after our game ended all the scouts had left!
The last thing I did this summer was go to the Hoop Group Camp at Albright College at the end of July by myself. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a camp as much as I enjoyed this camp. It was just an all around great camp. It was really physically challenging with a good level of play. My coach started getting calls from coaches asking about me – he’s always joking to me by saying “your gonna have to start paying for my phone bill cause of all the calls I get!” It is a cool feeling to have college coaches know who you are. I’ve established my name on the East Coast and this year I’m hoping to establish my name on the West Coast. I’m lucky to have a great AAU team and High School team to help do that… Let’s get it!