FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox first baseman Bobby Dalbec already has picked out the outfit he’ll be wearing to the ballpark for Opening Day at Fenway on April 15.
“Our home opener, I’m going to be rocking his (Derrick White’s) No. 9 Celtics jersey in there,” Dalbec said Saturday here at JetBlue Park.
Dalbec and White were basketball and baseball teammates together at Legend High in Parker, Colo.
Dalbec texted White immediately after hearing the Celtics acquired him in a trade with the Spurs on Feb. 10, then ordered White’s No. 9 Celtics jersey.
“I customized one and it got here last week,” Dalbec said.
White feels Dalbec one of his Spurs game jerseys back when he played for San Antonio.
“I’m going to send him a Red Sox one, one of my gamers,” Dalbec said. “And he’s going to send me a (Celtics) gamer. I want that black one though with the green-striped Celtics across the front.”
Dalbec played on the Legend High varsity basketball team as a freshman and sophomore before stopping to focus on baseball. Legend High was established in 2008. White graduated in 2012. Dalbec graduated in 2013.
“It’s crazy,” White said. “Two kids from Legend, brand new high school. We were the first two graduating classes. So two kids now in Boston, it’s pretty crazy. But I’m super excited for him to get out here. I already have his jersey, so I’m gonna have to get him a Boston one.”
Dalbec added, “It’s pretty cool that we end up playing at the highest level in the same city. It’s very surreal.”
White recently dished on Dalbec’s basketball skills.
“Bobby can shoot,” White said. “He had a nice little jump shot and he was big, good size. His basketball IQ I think needed some work. Bobby was silent. I don’t know how good he said he was, but he was pretty good for us. He was big off the bench. But that’s my guy. As soon as I got traded, he texted me and I’m excited for him to get back out here too.”
Dalbec laughed when reading White’s quotes about him.
“I lacked basketball IQ, which I think he said,” Dalbec joked. “I read that and (expletive) lost it, too. So funny.”
Could Dalbec shoot like White claimed?
“I could shoot but I could not dribble and I had no mid-range,” Dalbec said. “I could get to the rim easily but I could not finish at the rim. But I could get rebounds, get in the way, set picks and shoot 3s. That’s about it.”
Dalbec said White has an “awesome” story. Our Souichi Terada wrote an in-depth feature about White’s rise from a no-name prospect with zero Division I offers out of high school to the NBA. He initially played at Division II Colorado-Colorado Springs. As Terada wrote, White received only a $3,000 housing stipend from the college and needed to pay off student loans using his first NBA paycheck.
White has averaged 10.5 ppg in 22 games for Boston so far.
“When people say he’s the hardest worker in the room, it’s that and then some,” Dalbec said. “He’s probably sick of everybody talking about him. But he was not big. Maybe 5-11, 160 pounds his junior year or senior year. And then he grew like five or six inches in D-2 and started to get looks. He sat out his junior year. He played one year of D-1 (Colorado) and (Spurs head coach Gregg) Popovich was like, ‘Yeah, I want that guy.’
“We always knew he was a great basketball player and he was always going to come down to a size thing,” Dalbec added. “His dad always believed in him. He was at every game and working hard. He always pushed him and Derrick always pushed himself. It’s an awesome story.”
Derrick White’s dad Richard White sent his son’s highlight tapes to Division II and III schools, junior colleges and NAIA programs.
“None of us were thinking that (NBA) at that point,” Dalbec said. “But he always wanted it obviously. He was never the guy who was like, ‘I’m going to play in the NBA.’ But in here (his own mind), he was an NBA player. Looking back on it and remembering how he went about his work, you could tell that was his only goal. And obviously it paid off for him.”
Dalbec said White was a complete player in high school.
“He was a five-tool basketball player,” Dalbec said. “He can rebound. He can play defense. He can block shots. Behind the perimeter he makes his shots. Create shots. A great pass. He does it all.
“He played baseball, too,” Dalbec added. “His player comp was Juan Pierre he would say. His helmet was too big. …Great center fielder.”
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