Brandon Whiteside has emerged as Glenbard South's new leader
Brandon Whiteside, the Glenbard South rising junior guard, has always considered himself to be a private person, someone who finds it far easier to lead by example than expression.
But with Whiteside and senior big man Charlie Bair as the only returning players from last year’s Sweet 16 qualifier that graduated seven seniors, veteran Coach Wade Hardtke has needed his do-everything combo guard to do even more this season -- particularly when it comes to matters like assuming the role of a verbal leader and becoming something of a coach on the floor for the young Raiders.
This year’s 15-man roster features a combination of eight sophomores and juniors, with the 6-foot-6-inch Bair being the only senior with any significant playing experience.
“He’s done absolutely everything we’ve asked of him this season,” Hardtke told the DuPage Policy Journal.
Averaging 13 points, three assists and three rebounds, Whiteside has given countless in-game pep talks to his impressionable teammates over the team's 6-7 start, which includes four wins in their last six games.
“We dressed him for a few games with the varsity last season, but this is his first full season at this level,” Hardtke said. “That can be a tough transition, but he’s handled it like a champ.”
Whiteside's success is evidenced by his recent 29-point explosion in an upset win over Metro Suburban Blue conference rival IC Catholic, as well as the major part he played in leading the Raiders to a third-place finish in the Glenbard West Holiday Classic.
Overall, the Raiders finished 2-2 at the event, knocking off Leyden in their final game, 52-42.
“I feel like this is more my team now, and that’s made it easier for me to just relax and focus on doing whatever it takes to help my teammates,” Whiteside said. “I just tell them to keep playing their game and stay in the moment.”
Hardtke hinted that he’s expecting even more from his star-on-the-rise.
“It’s all about keeping him aggressive and doing the little things,” he said. “Against man defenses, he’s always confident; we’re still working on things like making sure he’s consistently attacking the gaps against zones and stuff.”
Fortunately, Whiteside is willing to keep working until it all becomes second nature to him -- in keeping with his dream of competing at the next level.
“That’s my goal: to play Division 1 basketball,” he said. “There’s a lot of time before that and a lot of work for me to do to get to that, but I’m all about making it happen.”
Although Whiteside is confident in his abilities as a player, his success is something that’s based on toil, sweat and a commitment never to take any situation or opponent for granted.
“I go into every game with the same mentality, and that’s to play hard and play to the end,” he said. “I never overlook anyone. That’s my promise to myself.”
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