MARCH 12, 2019 - COVINGTON
Bob Huelsman, the legendary coach at Covington in the 1970s and 80s, once said he never made any of his players great basketball players - they made themselves great through hard work.
Samantha Whiteman is in the same mold. She wasn't born a great basketball player and no coach made her a great basketball player. It was Whiteman who made herself a great basketball player through hours upon hours of hard work over the course of the past decade.
Legend has it Whiteman would shovel snow out of the driveway so she could shoot in the winter. As a grade schooler, she would also walk to the courts up town with a basketball in hand begging the high school boys at the time to let her play pickup games with them - and the boys wouldn't take it easy on her either. As she grew older, she begged coaches to let her into the gym before school or on the weekends to shoot.
It all led to an amazing high school career for Whiteman as she set school records in career points (1,893), career field goals made (734), career assists (353), career steals (266) and career games played (100). She also set single season records for most points-per-game (24.5), field goals made (231), highest free throws percentage (81.3) and recored the most points scored in a game with 41.
An now, Whiteman ads another accomplishment to her resume as she was selected as the Division IV Player of the Year in the state of Ohio.
"Wow," Whiteman said when learning of the honor. "That is a tremendous honor. It is just nice to see all the hard work rewarded. I have always believed if you work hard, you can accomplish anything. I just hope all the young girls in Covington who play basketball see this and understand you can accomplish anything with hard work."
Covington coach Jim Meyer was also excited about the news.
"When, you think of all the Division IV players in Ohio, to be able to say I coached the best Division IV player in Ohio, it is quite an honor," Meyer said. "I am just so proud of Sammi (Whiteman). I have always said the thing about Sammi is how hard she works. She is a girl that deserves everything she has gotten. She is a great example for all the young girls in Covington of what you can accomplish if you work at it and do all the right things."
And as every time she stepped on the floor for Covington in that number 11 uniform (which Whiteman plans to wear for Trevecca Nazarene University next year), Whiteman was thinking about her late grandfather Joe Paxson when she received the news. Joe was the uncle of former NBA players Jim and John Paxson.
"He is the one who really introduced me to the game," Whiteman said. "We would play all the time. He died a few years ago, so I play for him. He is one of the things I am thinking about every time I play."
Just this past season - Whiteman's senior season - she scored 588 points for an average of 24.5 points-per-game. She also averaged 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.3 steals a game, while averaging just 2.6 turnovers despite being the Buccs primary ballhandler.
She shot 55 percent on two-point shots, 36 percent on 3-point shots and 81 percent from the line.
Whiteman was named First-Team All-Conference, the Southwest District Player of the Year and now the Player of the Year in the state of Ohio in Division IV basketball.
"It is an incredible honor," she said. "To be chosen as the best player in Division IV in Ohio. It is amazing. It is great to be recognized for all the hard work I put in and just shows it was worth it."
And it's all due to the hard work she put in since she was in grade school.