Freshman basketball players face a challenging adjustment. In addition to having to adapt to a higher level of competition, players have to adjust to college academics, a new social atmosphere and life away from home. Moreover, the college season is longer and includes more travel, which can sometimes lead younger players to experience a drop in production as the season continues.
Georgetown freshman guard Dionna White has had no such issues.
“People talk about in the second half of the season, sometimes freshman players hit the wall,” Head Coach Natasha Adair said. “I think she has knocked the wall down. I think she has already run through the wall.”
White has immediately established herself as one of the top players in the Big East. A 5-foot-5 guard, she leads the Georgetown women’s basketball team (13-10, 6-7 Big East) in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. Among Big East players, she ranks sixth with 15 points per game, second with 2.2 steals per game and sixth with 3.9 assists per game. On Monday, she was named the Big East Freshman of the Week for the fifth time this season.
Still, White prefers to talk about how her teammates have helped her rather than her own accomplishments.
“On a couple of my fouls, they would be like, ‘Play smart.’ Or, ‘Time to score,’” White said. “They teach me throughout the game.”
White has led the team to rapid improvement this season. Last season, the team finished 4-27, winning just two Big East games.
Adair said she has enjoyed coaching White early in her career.
“She’s a coach’s dream,” Adair said. “And I say that because she’s a kid that comes in and works. What boss doesn’t like that? I mean, she comes in, and she gives 110 percent every day.”
Individually, White brings a balanced skill set to the court. Offensively, she has blazing speed in the open court and is willing to attack the rim in transition, which is a part of the game that she enjoys.
“It’s intense,” White said. “It’s like a thrill, running in transition.”
White is also comfortable scoring in a variety of other ways. She leads Georgetown with 19 three-pointers made and refers to her jump shot as a key aspect of her smooth transition to the college game.
“It’s very important, because sometimes they’ll be blocking the hole, so I have to shoot,” White said of her jump shot. “And [the defenders] are taller, so I can’t keep going to the hole and finish all the time, so I have to pull up and shoot the open shot instead of making it harder.”
White is also a key contributor on defense, as she leads the Hoyas in rebounds and steals. Adair also praised White’s rebounding — at 5-foot-5, White would not seem to have strong rebounding ability at first glance.
“It just speaks to who she is,” Adair said. “I mean, she is tough. And so she’s not afraid to go in there and get hit; she’s not afraid to battle, and she has the athletic ability to get in there and leap. But I just attribute that to her toughness. Whatever this team needs, Dionna can do.”
White said she has also had a smooth adjustment to college off the court.
“Academics are very important to her and her family and also us,” Adair said. “And so, you know, she’s a smart kid, and she just gets it academically, gets it athletically — like I mentioned before, just very high IQ.”
True to form, however, the freshman credits her older teammates with helping her adjust to college life.
“They help me with my homework,” White said. “And some of the classes that they took already, they help tutor me. So that helps a lot.”
Adair said that White has begun to reveal more of her personality, including her witty sense of humor, as she grows closer with her teammates.
“What a lot of people don’t know about her is she has this funny wit,” Adair said. “She’s quiet, but as she warms up to you, she’s not at all. She has this dry sense of humor, she’s always laughing and smiling about something. She’s kind of a jokester, and so it’s been great to see that personality come out.”
Adair said she is excited about the future of Georgetown women’s basketball, particularly with White and sophomore guard Dorothy Adomako, who is second on the team with 14 points per game, leading the team for the next few seasons.
“She’s a player that any coach in the country would be blessed to have, and she’s a Hoya,” Adair said. “And I’m thankful for it, I’m excited to see her grow, and she will help put this team on her back for banner seasons. And, I’m just looking forward to seeing how far she goes, individually, and what accolades she accomplishes.”
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