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Kristina White, shown at Woodbury team practice during a previous season, scored 548 points last season. She toughened her offseason with a move this summer. Star Tribune file photo
It's rare to see a player give up a starting position with one team for a backup position with another. That's exactly what Kristina White did. That's exactly what she and a local club team felt was best for her future.
White, a star guard at Woodbury High School, wanted to take the next step toward her goal of playing college basketball. She found a good spot for it with North Tartan Nike Elite 17U, one of the nation's top AAU teams, boasting college-bound talent throughout its roster last season.
White now plays with and against the best in the U.S. while traveling throughout the country. Her upcoming itinerary includes travel next week to play in Ames, Iowa, then to Orlando, Fla., and then back north to Chicago. At the end of July, after hosting a tournament in Hopkins, North Tartan will head to South Carolina for Nike Nationals.
"It's the highest competition I've ever played against," said White, formerly of the Minnesota Suns club program.
Part of that move means White now plays behind Braham phenom Rebekah Dahlman, the all-time leading scorer in girls' high school basketball in Minnesota and one of the most sought-after players in the U.S.
North Tartan head coach Gerard Coury knows that's not an easy transition for White, but it's one that will pay dividends regardless.
"There's no girl in the Midwest that's going to take Bekah Dahlman's spot. That's the tough part," Coury said. "It's the good news-bad news. The good news is she can learn from one of the best."
Dahlman is one of the top players in the country. Only a handful of schools have not offered her a place to play. White knows this, and takes advantage of the chance to observe her during games and then go up against her every day in practice.
"She's obviously unbelievable. It's a great experience because every girl that's on the court is unbelievable and you just never know what to expect because they're always pulling out some moves," White said. "Offensively and defensively, we're just all over the court."
And White's no slouch herself. After all, there's a reason she was invited to join the team.
As a junior at Woodbury last season, she scored 548 points -- including her 1,000th career point -- and broke four school records. She still has her senior year ahead to build on those accomplishments.
White has not committed to a school yet, but colleges are definitely interested and inquiring. For her to succeed at the next level, she has to continue to get better with her ballhandling, shooting and physical conditioning. That means taking her skills and qualities in those areas and working on them day in and day out.
"There's not many true gym rats out there, and that is Kristina," Coury said. "She's the definition of a gym rat: always working on her game, always trying to figure out what she can do to get better."
White is getting a chance to experience basketball outside her home state. Player and coach both feel it already has improved her game. Coury just wishes she had joined him sooner.
"She's playing catch-up, and she's doing a great job of it," Coury said. "It's been a very good fit. I think she's been able to learn a lot, and I think she's a better player and is going to be a better person as a result of her experience."