White ready to work for professional opportunity

Two months into married life, former UNLV forward Wendell White reports “everything is great” for the newlyweds.

White and his wife, Kelli, met three years ago and were married April 27. She is the daughter of a former professional baseball player.

Her husband plans to be a pro basketball player in the near future.

White is no longer single, but he probably will be a free agent after the NBA Draft on Thursday.

“Everybody is not guaranteed to be a draft pick. If it does happen, I’m blessed,” he said. “If I don’t get drafted, I know I’ll have to work my way up. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I strive on hard work.”

White, the Rebels’ leading scorer and rebounder as a senior, helped his cause with two strong performances in the NCAA Tournament.

He scored 19 points in

a first-round victory over Georgia Tech and 22 points in a second-round victory over Wisconsin.

UNLV finished 30-7 and reached the Sweet 16 behind the leadership of five seniors — none of them superstars.

Point guard Kevin Kruger and center Joel Anthony have attracted the most interest in pre-draft workouts with NBA teams. Kruger and Anthony both are long shots to be late second-round picks.

While center Gaston Essengue and shooting guard Michael Umeh have no chance of being drafted, White at least has a slim chance.

After his only NBA workout, for the Golden State Warriors last weekend, White said he made a positive impression on Warriors coach Don Nelson and team vice president Chris Mullin.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I’m really happy about the situation.”

The 6-foot-6-inch White, a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection, averaged 14.4 points per game for the Rebels. He did most of his scoring on drives to the basket and midrange jumpers.

But his long-range game is his weakness — he made just 1 of 15 3-pointers — and that makes him a player without a true NBA position. He’s not big enough to be a power forward and does not shoot well enough to be a small forward.

White’s toughness should not be doubted by scouts. After suffering a broken jaw in a victory over Wyoming on Feb. 10, and having it wired shut the next day, he did not miss a game.

“He’s got a good body and good athletic ability. At his size, he’s just got to improve his shooting,” UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. “He’s got to spend a lot more time shooting the ball. He just needs time.”

White, from Los Angeles, is attending summer school and working to earn his degree in university studies in August.

After the draft, he expects to play for an NBA summer league team. Beyond that, his most likely options are to play in the NBA Development League or overseas.

“I talked to my wife about (going overseas) and she’s up for it,” he said. “It’s an exciting time for me.”

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