By ELLIE SEITZLER, Four Points News
Persistence has gotten Drayton Whiteside where he is today. The Steiner Ranch product and Vandegrift grad didn’t give up and this season earned a spot on the University of Texas men’s basketball team.
“Growing up I had always watched Texas basketball and dreamt about having a Texas locker and playing in the Erwin Center. And now I get to do it,” Whiteside said.
One thing that led Whiteside to have the opportunity he has today is the simple desire to play the game.
“I always went to Bella Mar, the local park, with a bunch of people and would play pickup basketball whenever I could,” he said. He would stay after practice to “get extra shots up on the shooting gun.”
Whiteside had a natural ability with basketball at an early age. While attending Laura Welch Bush Elementary, Whiteside said he, “was one of the only ones that could dribble between [his] legs” out of his YMCA team with all his friends.
Throughout Canyon Ridge Middle School, Whiteside played basketball as an A team starter, football, basketball, soccer, tennis and track and field.
After having to make a difficult decision Whiteside chose to focus primarily on basketball at VHS. As a sophomore, he made the junior varsity team and claimed that this was his turning point in his basketball career because he wanted to and thought he should be on varsity. Whiteside took this as motivation to work harder and “show coach what he was missing on varsity.” He started to play club basketball as well as for the JV team.
Whitside described his junior year at VHS being a “big leap” for his basketball career by making varsity and being named co-captain. He also trained on the side. He said his senior year was similar to his junior year, “except [he] had more responsibility as a team captain.”
Whiteside describes his best moment of his VHS career as being his first varsity home game where he scored 40 points, and said, “that moment was really special for me because it showed me that I could really compete at this level.”
Throughout his senior year, Whiteside kept in touch with the UT basketball coaches and had talked about being a walk-on but nothing became official. As a freshman at UT, Whiteside tried out for the basketball team but another walk-on wasn’t needed at the time. So he improved and tried again his sophomore year but again was cut because of miscommunication with paperwork needed for the requirements of the NCAA.
“I was extremely upset at the time and told myself that I wouldn’t tryout next year. However, in my third year I got a call from the Texas Men’s Basketball Director of Operations, Cody Hatt. He told me that they the Texas Basketball team was looking for a point guard walk-on to join the team,” Whiteside said, and after trying out he finally made the team this season.
Whiteside said that juggling collegiate sports and school is a big challenge but the key is to “not view [school work] as a chore”. He finds doing homework and projects more enjoyable and helpful in a study group session or even while with his friends.
After classes and practice, Whiteside uses his remaining time to do homework, sleep, play video games or work with the Texas Wranglers, an organization he’s a part of which is spirit group for UT Men’s Basketball.