GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNC Greensboro (UNCG) men’s basketball trip to St. Petersburg, Florida means more than three games for Jalen White.

“It means everything,” the 6 foot, 5-inch UNCG junior transfer forward from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi said Monday afternoon. “Being able to go home and play for the people I love is great, especially knowing we are playing at Eckerd College. That’s a gym I grew up in with summer camps, playing there when I was in middle school, and playing one of my best games there of my high school career.” 

That would be on Cancer Awareness Night when he scored 28 points while leading his team to a victory.

White had extra motivation that evening because his mom, Ann, a two-time stomach cancer survivor, was in attendance and being honored that night. It was the fuel White needed to shine.

When describing his mom and her battle to conquer cancer, White’s face lit up like a Christmas tree.

“She’s the emotional rock of my family and seeing her down a little and sick, it messed with me at the time,” White said. “To see that she has made a full recovery is inspiring me. When I want to give up when things get hard, I can’t because I know what she has been through. She always sends me text messages like ‘I love you’ and ‘I care about you.” 

White, a 20-year-old history major, learned of his mother’s second cancer diagnosis when he was in eighth grade.

“Her first bout happened when she was pregnant with my sister (Niaya) about three years before I was born,” White said. “I was devastated when I learned that it was her second time. My dad did a good job of keeping us protected from it. We knew she was sick, but we didn’t know the full extent for a good deal of the time. Seeing her like that was tough.” 

White is excited to play his first collegiate game in his home state and to see his family during the Spartan’s six-day trip to the Sunshine state. They are a close group. 

“She’s been huge,” said White when asked about his mom’s support of his career. “I am more of a loner in a lot of different ways and a lot of times, be it with friends or with family, I go out without even talking to them. Even if I wanted to not talk to her, my mom is the one person — even if I wanted to — she’s not letting it happen all the time. She reaches out to me all the time over the phone or by text. She’s always been supportive and she’s amazing.” 

In addition to focusing on UNCG’s challenges of competing against Green Bay, UMass, and Florida International during the tournament, White will have to navigate plenty of ticket requests. Even though UNCG will be playing in Florida, expect the Spartans to enjoy a home-court advantage thanks to White’s family.

“I have everybody hitting me up for tickets,” White said. “It’s crazy and exciting at the same time.”

Through three games for the undefeated Spartans, White is averaging five points and four rebounds as he adjusts to his new team and first-year head coach Mike Jones

He’s been impactful when he has played. White had five rebounds each in UNCG’s first two games against North Carolina A&T and Northern Kentucky. He had four points, including a dunk, against Coppin State.

“It’s been amazing here,” White said of his transition to UNCG. “It’s a family atmosphere here. Being able to come in and feel like I am working toward a positive goal with everyone else working in the right direction. To have so many great basketball minds together is a beautiful thing to see.”