Former high school teammates reunite at Temple

Temple Men’s Basketball players and high school teammates Jahlil White and Taj Thweatt will share the floor together at the college level following Thweatt’s transfer to Temple.

Jahlil White and Taj Tweatt have been playing since eighth grade at Wildwood Catholic ERIKA MONN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

When Taj Thweatt moved to Jahlil White’s home state of New Jersey in third grade, the two instantly became best friends. Their friendship strengthened when Thweatt began playing organized basketball in eighth grade at Middle Township Middle School, and the two shared the floor together as high school teammates at Wildwood Catholic Academy.

Sophomore forward Taj Thweatt transferred to Temple University from West Virginia to play men’s basketball with longtime friend Jahlil White. ERIKA MONN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

When they graduated, White and Thweatt thought their days of playing together were finished after Thweatt committed to West Virginia University and White committed to Temple. Thweatt then transferred to Coastal Carolina University in February before reentering the transfer portal in May, leading to the possibility of he and White playing together again.

“Before he entered the transfer portal, we talked all day everyday,” White said. “When he hit the portal he called me and said that he was actually considering coming to Temple.”

White immediately tried to convince head coach Aaron McKie and the rest of the coaching staff to bring the sophomore forward to Temple. Several weeks later, the Owls extended a scholarship offer to Thweatt and he became an Owl.

“We are really excited to welcome Taj to our Temple basketball family,” said head coach Aaron McKie. “Taj is a very talented player and we initially recruited him out of high school when he was at Wildwood Catholic so he is going to make an immediate impact on our program.”

Thweatt was the more highly-regarded prospect between both players coming out of high school, earning offers from programs like the University of Florida, Penn State University and DePaul University, while receiving interest from the University of Miami, the University of Illinois and Seton Hall University. 

White, on the other hand, received offers from mainly mid-major schools like Towson University, Bryant University and Drexel University. Temple was the only school that extended scholarship offers to both White and Thweatt, but Temple was not as high on Thweatt’s list as other schools at the time.

Despite getting less attention than his teammate, White never let Thweatt’s higher profile recruiting process bother him and was happy to end up at Temple, he said. 

“Stuff like that, it just made me very happy for him,” White said. “I never feel any type of way about stuff like that and just seeing my teammates and friends achieve their goals and good things happening to them, it’s always a great feeling for me.”

When they were younger, Thweatt was always considered to be the more athletic of the two while White credited himself with being the smarter player, making them the perfect duo, he said.

At the college level, it has been White who has found more success, starting in 16 games and averaging 7.4 points and six rebounds per game while shooting more than 40 percent from the field last season for the Owls. Thweatt has averaged less than one point, playing in just 12 total games during his two seasons with the Mountaineers, but has a new opportunity to showcase his talent with Temple.

When Thweatt first arrived at Temple in June, he already envisioned what it would be like to get back on the court with White. The two believe they have the opportunity to create something special this season as the Owls have their sights set on a return to the March Madness tournament for the first time since 2019.

“Our connection and our chemistry on the court is crazy,” Thweatt said. “I’m really looking forward to playing with [White] and being on the same court as him again.”

After an offseason of anxiously waiting to play with each other again, White and Thweatt finally reunited on the court in a matchup against Wagner College on Nov. 7.

“If this plays out how we all want it to play out, this is going to be a great thing,” White said. “Out of high school, I was very upset not being able to play with him no more, I really thought it was the end of us being together but we’re very excited.”

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