It wasn’t a clear path to a college basketball scholarship for Northside’s Philip Whittington. There were plenty of detours that had him start his high school career at Jordan and sit out his sophomore season after transferring to Northside.
He finally got a taste of varsity ball as a junior in 2013, and he hasn’t looked back.
Whittington signed a letter of intent on Thursday in the school’s auditorium to continue his career at the University of South Carolina-Upstate after he graduates in the spring. Upstate is a Division-I mid-major that competes in the Atlantic Sun conference alongside 2014 NCAA tournament surprise Mercer University.
“It’s been my dream to play college basketball period, but Division-I—that feels pretty good,” Whittington said. “I’m just hoping to bring my energy and to be an impact from the start.”
He had a huge impact on Northside a season ago, averaging 13.5 points and 12 rebounds for the Patriots, who advanced to the Class AAAAA quarterfinals. He became just the second player in Northside’s history to average a double-double per game. He also notched 2.8 blocks per contest.
He hopes to bring a bigger impact and bigger accomplishments — a state championship — to Northside in his senior season.
The road to his scholarship wasn’t always easy for Whittington. After beginning his time in high school at Jordan and transferring to Northside, he was a year behind in varsity play. He didn’t get a chance to prove himself until last season. He credits the people around him like Northside coach Kenneth Lawrence and his dad for helping him find this opportunity.
“I just talked to people, talked to my coaches, got advice around the community,” he said. “I went hooping every weekend with my father. We practiced and practiced and practiced. Finally, it’s paid off.”
Whittington is the 10th player in Northside’s young history to sign a basketball scholarship.
Meanwhile, the school had its first ever girls golf signee in Hannah Holland, who signed to compete at Columbus State.
Holland averaged an 89 as a junior and was the individual runner-up at the Region 1-AAAAA tournament and finished third at the Muscogee County tournament.
“I enjoyed the homie feel that CSU brought to the table and I was excited to be able to stay at home and be an active member in my community and my church,” she said.