by Earl Austin Jr.
Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American
St. Louisan Jo Jo White will be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place September 10-12 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
A former star prep player at Vashon and McKinley for legendary coach Jodie Bailey, White was a collegiate All-American at Kansas and a seven-time NBA All-Star with the Boston Celtics. White also won a gold medal with Team USA during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
A smooth-shooting guard, White spent 11 seasons with the Celtics, where he averaged 17.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists for his career. He helped the Celtics to NBA world championships in 1974 and 1976. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 1976 Finals after leading the Celtics to a victory over the Phoenix Suns.
White was selected to the NBA All-Star team seven times and was on the All-Rookie Team in 1970. White’s No. 10 jersey was retired in 1982 and raised to the rafters in the old Boston Garden.
White is considered by many as the best player ever to come out of the St. Louis area. He led Vashon to the state quarterfinals in 1963. He spent his last two years of high school at McKinley, where he averaged 20 points a game. White earned St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Metro and St. Louis Globe Democrat All-District honors.
White continued his stellar career at Kansas, where he was a three-time All-Big Eight Conference selection and a two-time All-American selection for coach Ted Owens. He averaged 15.3 points in his three seasons with the Jayhawks.
Before embarking on his successful NBA career, White helped lead the USA basketball team to a gold medal in the 1968 Olympics. With several top players electing not to play in the Olympics, the USA team was considered underdogs. However, led by White and fellow 2015 Hall of Fame inductee Spencer Haywood, the USA powered its way to the gold medal in convincing fashion.
White will be inducted alongside 39-year NBA referee Dick Bavetta, three-time College Coach of the Year John Calipari, four-time NBA All-Star Spencer Haywood, eight-time NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo, three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, Louis Dampier (voted in from the American Basketball Association Committee), John Isaacs (from the Early African American Pioneers Committee), Lindsay Gaze (from the International Committee), Tom Heinsohn (from the Veterans Committee) and George Raveling (from the Contributor Direct Election Committee).