Freshman guard McDowell-White adjusts to life in America


Bailey Monteith

Freshman guard Jessica McDowell-White sizes up a Gonzaga defender on Nov. 11. McDowell-White has made 13 3-pointers this season.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

Before coming to EWU from Australia,  Jessica McDowell-White had never been to America before. In the few months she’s been here, she’s taken a liking to cinnamon rolls and hitting 3-pointers for the women’s basketball team.

“We don’t have [Cinnabon] back home,” McDowell-White said. “I [had] to slow down on those.”

McDowell-White has made an impact on the court in just a few games of play. This is especially true of her shooting ability. Through four games this season, freshman guard McDowell-White has hit 13 shots from the field. Eleven have been from 3-point range. She’s averaging 9.3 points per game overall, which is second on the team.

“Being open, I’ve shot the ball,” McDowell-White said. “The three has always been part of my game.”

McDowell-White came from a family of athletes and started playing basketball in Australia around the age of five. Her two brothers and mother played basketball as well, and her father, Darryl White, played professional Australian rules football. McDowell-White also played netball and did track, but chose to stick with basketball.

“I was always at the court,” McDowell-White said. “Got into [playing] that way, from a young age.”

In 2015, McDowell-White helped lead her Queensland South team to a national championship. She also made the U17 Sapphires Team at the Oceania Championship. She said that these are the two accomplishments prior to arriving at EWU that she’s most proud of.

McDowell-White was recruited to EWU by former assistant coach and fellow Aussie Jodi Page. She chose to come to Cheney after seeing the chance she had to compete.

“I was talking to a few other schools,” McDowell-White said. “[but] Eastern got my attention. There was an opportunity for me here to play, and the culture of the girls and the coaching staff is incredible.”

Despite being new to America as a freshman, McDowell-White said the transition to getting to know her teammates was seamless.

“The first day I came, it felt like I had known them for months,” McDowell-White said. “Everything feels like a family. All the girls feel like my sisters […] everyone’s there to support you through everything.”

Despite standing just 5 feet 6 inches tall, McDowell-White is tied for third on the team with 16 rebounds through four games. She said advice from family has helped her become an aggressive rebounder.

“Growing up, my father always told me ‘the more you go for the more you get,’” McDowell-White said. “Being aggressive and staying on the boards, that’s how you get the numbers up there.”

WNBA legend Diana Taurasi has been a big inspiration to McDowell-White’s career. Taurasi, a 13-year veteran for the Phoenix Mercury, has scored the most points in WNBA history while winning three championships and four Olympic gold medals.

“She’s a great role model to look up to,” McDowell-White said. “She can shoot the ball [and] get to the rim. She’s played in many big games and she always performs at the top level.”

While McDowell-White shares the common team goal of winning a Big Sky Championship, she tries to stay focused in the moment to achieve success, a mindset she says is a goal of hers for her EWU career.

“I take it each game at a time,” McDowell-White said. “[I] don’t think of the game in two weeks, I’m just worried about the game that’s coming up next. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a few wins on the board in the next few weeks.”

McDowell-White and the Eagles return to action on Nov. 28 at Cal Poly before playing a home game on Dec. 2 versus Fresno State. Admission to all EWU home games is free to students who show ID.