Profiled - Written by Kram Staff on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 21:11 - 0 Comments
Jensen-Whyte Stepping Up for the Redmen
Last season Jordan Jensen-Whyte received an excellent education on what it takes to be a champion.
As a grade-11 player, the 6’4” guard played big minutes for the Western Canada Redmen senior boy’s basketball team that last year captured the division one city championship banner, followed by the provincial 4A title a few weeks later.
“Last year, at the end of the year, he wasn’t a starter, but he played starter minutes,” said Redmen’s head coach Steve Wiebe. “We left some grade-12s in as starters last year, out of respect for their year, but realistically by the end of the year he was getting those starters minutes.”
That Redmen team was stacked with high-end, talented players who learned the hard way what it takes to be a winner, and the team’s veterans weren’t shy to take young teammates like Jensen-Whyte under their wing to pass on some knowledge.
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“The experience that he had in the cities and provincials last year, for him and John (Traboulsi) is really going to help them and our team as we get into those crunch games,” said Wiebe. “It is the poise and the confidence that they gained from that which is helping us so much.”
Based on this season’s results, Jensen-Whyte was obviously as eager to learn as his teammates were willing to teach because he’s been playing lights out all season for a Redmen team that rolled through the regular season with a 9-1 record.
“Obviously we’re coming of a provincial championship last season, so there’s a high standard,” said Jensen-Whyte. “I think we’re on our way up there but we haven’t peaked yet, which is good.”
During last week’s Kram Game of the Week he put together another all-star like performance as the Redmen defeated the Bowness Trojans 86-60.
He set the tone early in that game, exploding for 19 first-half points on his way to a 25-point night, many of which came courtesy of the long ball in clutch situations that helped blow a fairly close game wide open.
Not only did Jensen-Whyte have the benefit of learning from past players and a top-notch coaching staff, he’s also had the fortune of being able to pick the basketball brain of his older brother Josh Whyte, who grabbed the 2009-10 Mike Moser memorial trophy given to the CIS player of the year.
The former Lester B. Pearson Patriot has been a positive influence on his little brother’s development into a big-time player.
“Just watching him play, I’ve always aspired to be like him,” said Jensen-Whyte. “He’s always been a great player ever since he was in high school.”
As much as he looks up to his older brother, Jensen-Whyte also wants to accomplish his own goals on the hard court outside of the shadows of his big brother.
“I just don’t want to follow him, I kind of want to make my own footsteps and I don’t only want to be know as his brother, I kind of want to be know as myself. But he’s obviously inspired me,” added Jensen-Whyte.
Regardless, the sibling rivalry has helped Jensen-Whyte carve out the beginnings of his own basketball journey, but when the two brothers do get together big brother still does what all older brothers are supposed to do.
“He beats on me,” admitted Jensen-Whyte with a laugh. “He gives me tips every once in a while…but he beats on me.”
The tools that he has developed during his high school basketball career definitely puts him at the top of the list when discussing Calgary’s top high school ballers.
His most valuable skill is his versatility.
He can score from pretty much anywhere on the court, and being a 6’4” guard that is just as comfortable pulling up for a long three as he is slashing to the basket presents a tough match up for opposing teams.
Being slightly ambidextrous is also a huge advantage for Jensen-Whyte when adjusting to what the defense is giving him.
“It kind of throws the defense off,” said Jensen-Whyte. “I shoot with my left and go to my right and coaches are always screaming ‘force him to his right because he’s left-handed’, but I can go to my left and I can go to my right.”
According to Wiebe, his uncanny ability to finish around the basket has a lot to do with the defenders not knowing which hand the ball is going to come from.
“The other day he hurt his left hand and he was shooting in practice with his right, and I couldn’t tell much of a difference,” said Wiebe. “I think that aids him with his finish around the basket. It doesn’t matter which hand he’s going with, he’s comfortable.”
It doesn’t matter what the defenders throw at him, his versatility allows him to adjust and take advantage of defensive gaps.
“He’s deceptively quick, he’s so long, he’s a long defender and as a guard he pulls down a ton of rebounds,” said Wiebe.
“His finish in traffic and in transition is just phenomenal. Then you add to it that he’s a good pull-up shooter as well and he’s a good passer.”
“His skill-set is beyond what a lot of teams have, and he’s still young. He just turned 17 so he could be grade-11 this year. It’s no wonder so many post-secondary schools are after him.”
Based on his prior experience and high basketball IQ, stepping into the leadership role became an obvious tool that Jensen-Whyte has added to his growing toolbox.
His leadership may not come via the usual verbal motivation techniques used by most captains.
Part of the reason is that the Redmen are a team that features several veteran grade-12 players like Traboulsi and Ammon Crowfoot, who all contribute to fill the team’s leadership needs.
“He’s a quiet presence, but he runs the floor so well,” said Wiebe. “He’s long, he can finish so well in transition, he can shoot the ball and he’s a fantastic, fantastic kid. He’s a leader by example.”
By proving himself on the court Jensen-Whyte has earned the trust of his coaching staff to give him the green light to use his skills to make things happen.
“I make a lot of reads and I don’t try to force anything,” he said. “I’ve been kind of blessed with the opportunity to create my own shot and I’ve worked hard to try and use that in my game. I always have my head up to look for other guys for an easy bucket.”
The journey towards duplicating last year’s accomplishments begins Friday night when the Redmen square off against either Central Memorial Rams or the E.P. Scarlett Lancers in the opening seeding round. Check out www.calgaryhighschoolsports.com for a complete playoff schedule.
Kram 5 with Jordan Jensen-Whyte
What are your sneakers of choice? Jordan 11s
What is your favourite pre-game meal? Pasta
Who is your favourite basketball player? Michael Jordan
What is your favourite NBA team? LA Lakers
What is your favourite movie? Love and Basketball