Sharman White is one of the most well-known and best high school basketball coaches in the world. White has been coaching for twenty-five plus years which includes stops at Miller Grove High School in Atlanta, where he won seven GHSA state championships, an assistant coach on the Georgia State staff, and now currently the head coach at Pace Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.
Coach White is also apart of the USA Junior National program and has been coaching on Team USA since 2013. I had a chance to speak with Sharman on multiple topics recently.
He is coming off a summer where he led our USA U17 National Team to another gold medal out in Spain, defeating the host country Spain in the gold medal championship game back in July. I asked Coach White to just reflect on that whole experience and journey throughout the process.
“It is a process and a journey going after a gold medal for the World Cup. It starts with our minicamps. We were fortunate to start back minicamp back in the spring during the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans and that started the process on the kids we were looking at for that team. Although we had kids that had played with the U16 team in the summer before, we knew the U17 team would change a bit. There were some kids we did not get to see during the U16 trials due to COVID.
You go to the minicamps and try to evaluate which kids have a chance to make the team. We thought that was one of our best minicamps overall. We invited about thirty plus kids to the trials out in Colorado back in June and it was the best training camp I have been apart of and I have been doing this since 2013. It was highly competitive, a lot of energy, and kids were really trying to earn spots to be apart of that U17 team.
As a coach, I would sit there and just be amazed on how hard kids were competing, the way the energy was in the gym, and kids just trying to be apart of that U17 team. That is what USA Basketball culture is really about, guys want to be apart of it. From the national team with the NBA guys all the way down to the junior national teams with the high school guys. Everyone wants to be apart of it because that is the culture that is set there. I think it is the best culture in basketball no matter what level.
We had to go through the very challenging process on selecting the actual team out of all the talented prospects we had in attendance there in Colorado. Our responsibilities as coaches are to try and select the right twelve guys for the team and not necessarily based on who is ranked where. As a committee and coaching staff, we thought we did the best job of that. We were looking for versatile guys that could play multiple positions, guard the ball defensively, and team players.
We went to Spain with one mission in mind and that was to win the gold. The gold medal game against Spain was one of our toughest games. They had former players in the building like Pau Gasol and Rudy Fernandez. Our guys just came together and took care of it. It was definitely an unforgettable moment for the players and coaching staff.” Coach White explains regarding the USA U17 journey to the gold medal this past July.
Sharman White has shown countless of times on why he is considered one of the greatest high school coaches in the world. Before his time at Pace Academy, he was the head coach at Miller Grove High School from 2004-2016. During his time at Miller Grove, White secured six straight GHSA state championships, made an appearance in the Dick’s Nationals in 2016, and actually secured a win as a public school in that same Dick’s Nationals over powerhouse Findlay Prep (NV) at the time.
His Miller Grove teams were always consistently one of the best teams in the state of Georgia and in the country and to do that as a public school is not easy. I asked Coach White to just talk about his mindset when it comes to coaching, whether it is with the USA program or his high school teams.
“I think it comes down to mentality. I feel like the teams I have been associated with to try to have the mentality to do your best and be your best. That starts with the culture you established. I think players want to be driven and want to be demanded of. I think once that is set, the sky’s the limit. I’ve always said, if you love them hard then you can coach them hard. I’m all about loving my players, making sure that they understand I care about them. By doing that, it gives us a license to be able to coach them hard and to put them in positions to be successful.
I’ve carried that throughout. You talk about passion and hard work, those are just some key ingredients to being successful. Again, just having that right mindset, even for the players themselves walking into an opportunity, you have to have the right mindset. I think for us as coaches, I try to make sure my guys have the right mindset going into any game, challenge, mission, or practice. The mental approach is very big for me as a coach, but there is still work to be done outside the mental aspect of it.” Sharman replied.
Pace Academy has always been one of Georgia’s better basketball programs and after adding Sharman White back in 2019, the program has just been even better. White has led the Knights to back-to-back state titles in 2020 and 2021. He also led them to their first ever GEICO Nationals appearance during that same 2020-2021 high school season.
Pace Academy has played an elite national schedule over the years since White has been their head coach. I asked Coach White how he has kept Pace Academy relevant over the years since he has been their head coach.
“You know man, I got here and the program already had some success before I even got here. It did kind of take a turn a little bit and I think that is why I was brought in. It does not really matter where you’re at as long as you have the right principles and mindset. If you have guys that are willing to buy in to what you want to get accomplished, it really doesn’t matter where your at.
Coming here, into a situation like that, I just tried to create the type of culture where kids want to achieve the best. When I got here and mentioned the word “GEICO”, people were thinking I was kidding. As we continued to build now by year three, guys started to believe in that, and before you know it, we were in the GEICO Nationals competing against Oak Hill Academy. That was something that people in the community and people around the school were super proud of. It was just evident how you could change the mindsets and change around a program.” Coach White answered.
The state of Georgia has been up there with the best of them when it comes to high school basketball over the years, showing they are more than just a football state. The Peach State has had a plethora of talent come out of the state Georgia which includes multiple top NBA Draft picks.
“I mean just being honest, I think Georgia basketball is just as good as any basketball in country. I know there are some other high bids like the DMV area, Chicago for example, but I just think Georgia basketball is second to none and we can compete with anybody.
We have some tremendous coaches and players and it shows every year when you watch the NBA Draft. I think that people are starting to notice we aren’t just a football state, even though we have some tremendous football, we also have some tremendous basketball going on as well. I believe it will just get better over time. The coaches, the players, the grassroots, and everybody from this area or operates out this area take pride on representing the Peach State.
Every time you see players playing, whether it is high school, AAU, all star games, or the NBA, they have a lot of pride of being from this area. I think it will just continue to get better and I think you will start to see a lot kids and families migrate this way because they see what we have going and how are basketball is making an impact across the country.” Sharman says regarding Georgia basketball as a whole.