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Interval Session #113 - James White

By SteveU - April 23, 2009

In a very short period of time, Grandview MO jr James “J.T.” White has gone from being one of many talented 7-0, 7-1 high-jump types to one of the best in prep history.  White’s hops first became really evident in his late middle-school and early high-school hoops career as he began dunking as a freshman standing less than 5-10. 

Coach Andy Leech and the rest of the Grandview staff soon began a campaign to woo him into track.  He jumped 6-07 as a frosh with teammate Brandon Kinnie to push him.  As a soph, he quickly tied his school record at 6-08, then went 6-10, then hit 7-00 for the 2008 Kansas Relays title.  His best wound up at 7-01, tied for #6 on the U.S. outdoor list and tied with Harrison Steed CA as the country’s best soph.

This spring, however, quickly brought some more 7-footers, then the incredible 5-day stretch that saw White soar over 7-03.25 at the Kansas Relays last Friday, then 7-05.75 at the Winnetonka Relays Tuesday.  The junior took a break between jumps to talk with DyeStat senior editor SteveU.

Flying over 7-00 en route to 7-05.75 last Tuesday.
Photo Chad Harberts
1)  I have to think the last five days have been the most incredible of your life.  First, please tell us about your preparation for Kansas Relays.  What was it that really drove you and motivated you for that meet?

The thing that drove me the most was that I really wanted to break the state record.  I also wanted my name at the No. 1 spot on the national rankings.  It was a perfect day to try to break a record.
2)  Can you talk about what the journey has been like from winning Kansas Relays to what you did Tuesday … and now the aftermath today?  What kind of reactions have you been getting from friends, teammates, media, etc.?  What has it been like emotionally?

It has been crazy.  I have been congratulated by almost everyone at the school.  I feel great and I can’t wait for the state meet.

3) Tuesday was supposed to be kind of a low-key effort, as I’ve heard.  You were reportedly going to shut it down after 7 feet.  What happened to convince you to keep going and what factors made this even a better meet than Saturday?  Can you describe the 7-5.75 jump?

Once I had cleared 7 feet by so much, I wanted to see how high I could go.  I was more confident in myself after jumping at the Kansas Relays, which is why Tuesday’s meet was a better than Friday’s.

4)  You had a strong season last year, getting up over 7-1, but you’ve very quickly added almost six inches.  What have been some things you’ve been doing in training this spring that have helped you improve?  What are the key things you’ve been working on technically?

I have mostly been working on my flexibility, by stretching more, and attacking the bar every time.

   Taking a break during the Tuesday meet.
Photo Chad Harberts
5)  I’ve heard your coach had to really work to talk you into coming out for track … freshman year, right?  Can you tell us a little bit about what it took to get you out here, and what those early practices and meets were like?  Did you really win your first high jump with a pair of hoops shoes?  Describe how you finally came to really embrace the sport.

I first came out for track to improve my jumping for basketball.  After being good at it, I took interest into it and it became something I really enjoined doing.

6)  The other big part of this that has everyone talking nationally is the fact that you are reportedly just 5-10 tall.  True?  And that you’re a wicked basketball dunkmaster?  Tell us about getting into hoops and other sports when you were younger and discovering your ability to leap.  When did you first dunk and how tall were you then?

I'm now 6 feet tall.  I first dunked my freshman year and have gotten better from then.

7) Your coach has said that your technique at this point is not really as refined as it could be and it’s been hard to get you the attention really needed to work on that.  He said you’re going to train at Kansas State this summer?  Can you tell us about that and what your goals are there?

Yes, my form needs work and my coach is helping me improve my flexibility.  My goals are to get better this summer and keep working on my form.

8) Now that you have reached the all-time elite, what kind of long term goals are you thinking about?  How serious will you still be about basketball now that you’ve had this incredible track success?

My long-term goals are to go to college and to hopefully jump in the 2012 Olympics.  I still feel the same about basketball and hope to play in college.

9) Can you tell us a little bit about the people behind your success?  Coaches, parents, family?  Also, when you’re not training and competing, what are your top academic interests and things you like to do in your free time?

My family, coaches and friends have all helped and, most importantly, God.  In my free time, I like to play basketball.

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