Billy White gathered a pass near the top of the key and spun immediately to his left, whirling like a running back evading a tackle, and charged past a Halifax Hurricanes defender for an easy layup.
It was the flashiest play on White’s highlight reel for the 2019-20 regular season with the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC)’s Moncton Magic, but by no means the only one.
Moncton fans saw White run the floor with abandon, finishing lobs, dribbling coast to coast and swatting shots into the stands on defence.
The league took notice, naming White its regular-season MVP in a low-key announcement last week.
“Billy is one of the most dominant players this league has ever seen, and he has shown that time and time again,” said Moncton head coach and general manager Joe Salerno.
“What makes him so difficult to defend is his versatility. He can bury you in the post, finish off the bounce and knock down the three.”
White led Moncton title defence
White, a six-foot-nine power forward, led the Magic to a league-best 19-4 record before the remainder of the season and playoffs were cancelled due to COVID-19 on April 1.
Moncton was a legitimate threat to repeat as NBLC champions after winning the 2019 title. White was a major reason why.
Moncton acquired him in a blockbuster trade with Halifax in the summer of 2018, hoping his impact in the playoffs would push the Magic over the hump.
White was, by this time, a seasoned vet with an impressive resume. He won two NBLC championships with Halifax and made it to the Finals in each of his first four seasons.
“He also is a tremendous playmaker — the best-passing big I have ever coached,” said Salerno.
White played four seasons at San Diego State University, where he was considered one of the most athletic players in school history and became the program’s all-time leader in career field goal percentage (60 per cent).
Though never a high-volume scorer in college, White has been a significant offensive threat in the pros, scoring a career-high and Moncton team record 52 points against Halifax on Feb. 23.
White finishes season with Magic after trade rescinded
In an odd twist, Moncton attempted to trade White to the Windsor (Ont.) Express in January for Canadian guard Kemy Osse and the protected player rights to Ty Walker.
But the trade was rescinded because Windsor was not permitted to trade the rights to Walker because he attended the team’s training camp in December 2019 and did not make the final roster.
This forfeited Windsor’s rights to Walker, according to a statement the Magic posted to their website. Osse returned to Windsor and White returned to Moncton, where he resumed his all-star-level of play.
“There is no doubt (in) my mind Billy was this year’s MVP,” said Salerno. “The best player on the best team.”