Player turned coach: Senior Karlee White leading Oak Park girls basketball from the sideline

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Karlee White possess every skill to be a great basketball player. It was all on display when the standout guard led Viewpoint to a CIF Southern Section Division 1 girls basketball championship last season as a junior.

The Harvard-commit finished the season averaging 20.4 points, 11.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game en route to being named the Daily News Offensive Player of the Year and the CIF-SS Division 1 Player of the Year.

Karlee White’s career night leads Viewpoint girls basketball to win over Camarillo and its first CIF title

But everything changed when she transferred to Oak Park High.

The Southern Section deemed White ineligible for her senior season after following coach Will Burr, who’s the new coach at Oak Park and was the coach at Viewpoint. It’s prompted White to add another element to her basketball skillset: coaching.

“I’m basically an assistant coach,” White said. “I’m also learning other things I think will help me when I get back on the floor. I’ve learned that communication is a huge piece of basketball. We need to communicate more.”

White, who had a procedure on her knee in November, is also focusing on her rehab. Despite dwelling on what she can’t do, the smiley senior is focusing on what she can do.

“I was pretty sad,” White said about not being able to play. “I took it as a sign from God telling me I need to take care of my body and that I was doing too much. So, the focus is to help the team in any way I can and get ready for college.”

Burr and White are also impacting the program in winning ways. Oak Park was 1-20 last year. This season, the Eagles captured the program’s first league title since 2006, are 14-11 overall and won the Coastal Canyon League in undefeated fashion (8-0) thanks to the play of junior Lindsay Gould, sophomores Ella Broms and Ella Shmool, and White’s younger sister, Delaney, a standout freshman point guard.

“Her IQ has improved and playing the role of a true point guard,” Karlee said of Delaney. “Having the ball in your hands forces you to be thinking at all times. Seeing her improvement in that aspect in a short amount of time is incredible.”

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Oak Park earned the No. 2 seed in the Division 5A playoffs and will host Lutheran High of La Verne in the opening round Thursday night. The Eagles are a serious contender to win a CIF title, which would give Karlee her second straight CIF ring and Delaney her first.

“Karlee’s perspective is very helpful to Delaney because she’s been there before,” Burr said. “She’s been incredible.”

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