“He’s just different,” Bellport High School JV basketball coach Rich Brown says when describing phenom Jarell White. “Unlike any high schooler I’ve ever met before.”
Even though Brown is the 18-year-old’s older cousin, Jarell isn’t some family partisan.
“I am his biggest fan, but I am his toughest critic,” said Brown, who also plays professional basketball overseas.
Jarell, a 6-4, 220-pounder, has been a four-year starter for Bellport High School’s varsity basketball team.
He is the boys’ all-time leader in points and rebounds— and is one of only 12 players to accumulate 2,000-plus career points in Long Island history.
He finished second in points to all-time girls great Arella Guirantes, a Divison I player at Rutgers who amassed 2,251 total varsity points at Bellport.
During his career, he earned Freshman of the Year honors while being a four-time Conference Player of the Year, four-year All-New York State player, all while gathering All-County and All-Long Island awards.
These are impressive feats for a Bellporter who picked up the game in eighth grade.
Jarell said his passion stems from his cousin, the school’s JV coach, who would play basketball with him at family functions.
“I owe everything to Rich; he made me into the player I am today,” said Jarell.
But it took countless hours of work and determination to get Jarell to perform at the level he is now.
“When he first started, he was raw,” said Brown. “He just knew how to be big and strong.”
But that didn’t deter the teenager who’s now played in 95 games, an astounding 91 of which he was the team’s leading scorer.
Throughout high school, Jarrell would meet up with his cousin/coach/trainer after school to practice three to four hours a day. He trained every day, even when Brown was playing pro basketball overseas.
“When I was away, he would send videos asking for feedback,” said Brown.
“I’m locked in,” added Jarell. “I give it my all every day.”
Over the years, he progressed his game from being a big-bodied forward that would snatch rebounds and score inside to a ball-handling guard.
And he expanded his shooting range. Before the 2019 season, he never attempted a 3-point shot. This season, he’s hit over dozen to help lead his team to a 17- 1 League 3 record and playoff appearance.
“I just love basketball,” said Jarell. “When I am out there, I am having fun every second.”
In his senior year, he led his squad to Suffolk County’s Class AA semifinals, where his team fell to Brentwood, 84-71.
Now his focus is continuing to play at the college level.
But he wants his high school legacy to be more than about basketball.
“I am more than just a basketball player,” he said, “Off the court, I’ll do anything to help somebody and make them happy.”
In his junior year, Jarell participated in Bellport’s Ambassador Program, through which he would spend time with students with disabilities. He even took one of them to the prom.
“He is the greatest kid that I’ve been around,” said Brown. “He has an infectious personality, hugs everyone every day, and is always smiling, laughing.”
From the archives:
Top: Jarell White training at the gym. (Credit: Instagram)