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Cremins: we won seven games thanks to White

Bobby Cremins coached in a Final Four with Georgia Tech, where he mentored future NBA stars such as Stephon Marbury, Mark Price, Kenny Anderson and John Salley. Cremins is well-versed on winning big and the personnel needed to pull it off.

Enter Tony White Jr. at Division I College of Charleston (S.C.) “We would have never won twenty-two games [22-11] and never done what we did without Tony White,” said Cremins, having just completed his first season at C of C, about his freshman guard and ex-Bearden High School star. “I hate to think where this team would be without him.”

A key guard off the bench who occasionally started, “I really think without Tony White we'd have seven less wins,” Cremins said. “He's won a few games for us with his outside shooting. ... Made clutch plays. There was one game where we were down-and-out, and he hit a huge three to turn the whole game around.”

Averaging 6.4 points per game and 22.2 minutes per contest as both a point-guard and two-guard — including seven starts — White's biggest stat game was an 18-point, seven assist, five rebound effort versus Charleston Southern in an 84-80 overtime loss Nov. 30.

“My mom [Rhonda] told me, wherever I go, whatever I do, I'm surprising people and proving them wrong,” said the 6-foot, 150-pound White, son of former UT Vol and All-SEC guard Tony White Sr. (1983-87). “I'm kinda grown on to that and understand what she's talking about, and see it myself. I feel I can do anything if I put my mind to it.

“I don't think it's ever intimidating once you step on the court, 'cause you're just doing something you love.”

As for playing under Cremins, “He's a good teacher of the game, I look forward to every practice,” White said. “You never know what you're going to learn throughout the day, throughout practice.”

White had a 12-point game in arguably the most intimidating college basketball site nationwide — Rupp Arena against perennial power Kentucky in a 77-61 UK win.

“When we played at Rupp, it was loud, but we kinda quieted the crowd for a couple of minutes,” White said. “They were kinda concerned because we were up six or seven points early-on in the game. It was probably the quietest I've ever heard Rupp.”

The ex-Bulldog star also scored 10 points in the Southern Conference Tournament championship game, a 72-65 loss to Davidson March 3 — one win from the NCAA Tournament. “I thought we were going to be playing on C-B-S,” White said.

Saying he wasn't overwhelmed as a freshman, “In high school, having a good coach like coach [Mark] Blevins, he prepared you for everything,” White said.

White first caught Cremins' eye during an AAU tourney in Georgia as a BHS senior — advised he was going to prep school. “He knew how to play. I kept on watching him, and there was just something about him I liked. And then I disrupted his life, and [some] people were not too happy with me at first. ... I never pressured him.”

Originally slated for prep school mainly due to his small stature, “I spoke to his high school coach [Blevins] and I spoke to his dad, mother, and they were concerned because he was so skinny,” Cremins said. “But he knew how to play the game, and he could shoot.”

Given “ten days to make up his mind” while Cremins was on a “Nike trip” to Hawaii, “I get a phone call from Tony and he says he wants to come to Charleston.

"Tony was more than a big surprise, he was a great surprise,” the former Ga. Tech skipper added. “Once we started official practice it was obvious we couldn't red-shirt him, we needed him.”

Cremins said he allowed White to decide to play or red-shirt, but advised the 17-year-old freshman he'd get “between fifteen and twenty minutes” of playing time per game. “I was disappointed he didn't make All-rookie team in the Southern Conference.”

Improvement? “He just needs to get stronger, that's all,” Cremins said. “He's a sleeper. If he gets stronger, we've got a special player.”

White added, “Our senior point guard's leaving, so I guess the door's open for me to take that spot.”

Off the court, “He's a great kid,” Cremins said. “He works hard on his academics. He's never caused me one problem. A very quiet kid.”

Except on the court.


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