Friday, September 26, 2014

Meet Cheo White

Cheo White is in his first year as an assistant with Las Positas Coach Lon Rork but brings plenty of multi-level basketball playing and coaching experience to the position.

He prepped under longtime Coach Craig Ashmore for three years at perennial East Bay power Newark Memorial High, a program where toughness is a prerequisite for getting on the floor.

After a redshirt season in 2001-02 as a freshman at Hampton University in Virginia, White transferred to Gary Cain-helmed Cerritos College in southern California. The Falcons won conference with White being named Second Team All Conference based on his 8.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game production. "Now that I am coaching, he is a mentor for me," White explained.

Then it was two years (2003-2005) at San Jose State University, playing for Coach Phil Johnson who currently is part of Tim Floyd's staff at UTEP. Johnson also earlier worked for Floyd at USC and with the Chicago Bulls of the NBA. "He was tough but fair, playing no favorites," White recalled. "He was an NBA guy and dealt with us that way." While there, White also reunited with former Newark Memorial teammate Marquin Chandler, who enjoyed a productive Spartan career.

Last season, White began working as a women's team graduate assistant coach at DII Cal State Dominguez Hills, a team headed by former Stanford standout Molly Goodenbour. The Toros won the conference tournament and, for the first time ever, played in the West Regional of the national tournament.

With a daughter in Sunnyvale, White was always planning on returning to the area. So when he reached out to Diablo Valley Coach Steve Coccimiglio, who knew of an opening at Las Positas, White pursued it.

"He [Coach Rork] allowed me do skill work with the team this summer and was impressed with my ability to build relationships with players. So he hired me and it's been great working with Lon this year."

Now, his primary assignments are working with the bigs and recruiting. "It's a very good situation for me and I'm building my craft. Lon has been great."

White continued, "It's a good environment to be in being at one of the better looking junior colleges. Facilities play a huge role [in recruiting] and our weight room looks like DI."

He wasn't one of those youngsters with constantly-fixed stars in his eyes. "I never thought the NBA would be me and I like the skill training aspect of assistant coaching as well as the Xs-and-Os," White said. Currently a physical education teacher at a school in San Mateo, he added, "It's teaching the game, impacting kids and giving back."

As for the 2015-15 Hawks, White offered, "We're laying a foundation but still under the radar."

McKayle Harnell, out of Livermore High, will be one of the Las Positas stalwarts. White offered this assessment: "he has a great body at 6-foot-3, 215 and is a natural two with catch-and-shoot ability."

As for 6-foot-3 Spaniard Marti Fonolla, "he's been here a month and is just getting comfortable. He just turned 18 and schools already know about him.

6-8 sophomore forward Lyle Hexom will redshirt this season. Out of Nebraska, Hexom, according to White, "has a skills set to play inside and outside. He'll be a gamechanger for us and play on the perimeter at the next level."

Looking down the road, White sees a couple of possibilities as 'an opportunity to coach at the DI level would be difficult to turn down. But the idea of building a successful high school program like Newark Memorial is appealing to me."

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