The many shades of Royce White

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 25, 2012 - 11:29 AM

Royce White the person and Royce White the player are difficult to pin down, but there's no denying he has talent uniquely his own.

As the NFL does so famously in Indianapolis every February, the NBA invites its best draft prospects to an annual combine where players are weighed, measured, tested and questioned ad nauseum.

When Royce White traveled to Chicago earlier this month, league personnel recorded his wingspan, body fat, hand size -- a massive 11 1/2 inches across, widest among 60 attending players -- and they inquired about his dubious past and uncertain future complicated by an anxiety disorder that includes a fear of flying.

About the only thing they didn't do: Ask him to play a few bars of "Imagine" downstairs on the baby grand in the hotel lobby.

"They asked me about the piano," he said, "but they never asked me to play it right there on the spot."

Minneapolis born and raised, White is the most unique talent in this year's draft. He is a gifted 6-8 forward who tantalizes NBA scouts with ball-handling and passing skills befitting a point guard; perplexes them with his youthful decisions and medically diagnosed angst; and intrigues them with a perspective beyond his 21 years.

When somebody in Chicago asked if the bushy beard he sprouted since completing his first and only season at Iowa State is an homage to Oklahoma City Thunder player James Harden, White answered it is inspired by his ... favorite Beatle?

"John Lennon," he said. "Philosophically and inspirationally, I connect with him."

So maybe it's not surprising then that White says he taught himself to play the piano during two lost collegiate seasons and also aspires to a music career. He was suspended by the Gophers after he was arrested on a 2009 Mall of America shoplifting charge and then transferred to play for former Timberwolves player and executive Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State without ever playing a game at Williams Arena.

In one season in Ames, he delivered on the promise that made him Minnesota's 2009 Mr. Basketball and one of just 20 players nationally invited to play in the Jordan Brand Classic that year.

He also became the nation's only major-college player who led his team in five statistical categories and delivered a 10-point, 18-rebound, 10-assist triple-double against Texas A&M after Hoiberg decided to put the ball in the hands of a natural power forward.

He did so with those huge hands and a 6-8, 260-pound body that Hoiberg calls a "freight train coming down the floor."

"He's the most unique player in a long time," Hoiberg said.

On pure talent alone, White is a top 10 pick, a guy who faced Connecticut's Andre Drummond and Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in consecutive NCAA tournament games and just might have been the best player on the floor in both games.

But factor in a past that includes transfers in both high school (from DeLaSalle to Hopkins) and college because of disciplinary reasons and that anxiety disorder that prevented White from getting on a plane to sign with John Calipari's Kentucky team.

White said he understands why he expects to go anywhere from 10 to 30 in Thursday's draft.

"That range is wide for the right reasons," White said. "You've got risk and reward that GMs are weighing. That anxiety thing plays a factor, and what position I play. But I've pretty much proven myself against the best players in the country."

'He has grown up a lot'

White attributes his legal issues -- he was accused of stealing $100 in clothes and pushing a security guard to the ground in October 2009 and later was questioned in the theft of a laptop computer -- to teenage mistakes and reminds his past season at Iowa State was incident-free.

He calls it a maturation he attributes to time's passing and fatherhood's responsibility. He has a 16-month-old son.

"He has grown up a lot from where he was a couple years ago," Hoiberg said. "That was evident in what he did here."

White traces the "anxiety thing" to a day when he was 10 years old and his best friend collapsed beside him as both boys ran wind sprints during a youth basketball practice. It was diagnosed when he was 18 and he says medication, education and a support group of family and friends keep it in order.

"They're asking about all that," White said about interviews with teams. "I'm just trying to be as honest as possible. I have found that being honest always helps to keep my stress low. Trying to keep up with lies is very difficult. It's good for me to be able to talk about it."

White ended up at Iowa State rather than Kentucky partly because he couldn't bring himself to get on a flight to Lexington, but Hoiberg calls the national media attention White receives for his fear of flying "so blown out of proportion." He points out White flew with the Cyclones without incident on an Italian summer tour and flew with the team repeatedly this past season.

White's grandfather drove him nine hours to NCAA tournament games in Louisville, Ky., a road trip Hoiberg said he suggested only because White had played so well after making four-plus-hour car trips to Kansas State and Missouri.

"It's not so much the flying, it's getting ready to fly," White said. "If I've got a flight at 12, from 9 to 12 I'm worrying and I've got that nervous feeling in my chest and my stomach and I may get sick. All those things are what exert the energy. When I'm on the plane, I'm not panicking."

Likes the Wolves

White's life might be simplified if he were drafted by an East Coast team that plays many of its road games within driving distance. But he said if it were his choice, he would be picked 18th overall by his hometown team, the Timberwolves.

He said he sent a message via Hoiberg to Wolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn suggesting he would give up his "right pinky toe" for the chance to return home.

"I'd definitely love to play for that city and that community, it being the city that kind of raised me," White said. "I went to a couple of games last year, sat in the crowd. That's a young, talented team. Kevin Love was one of the more impressive players I saw all year. If you can't play next to Kevin Love and [Ricky] Rubio and those guys ..."

The Wolves already have Love and his new $61 million contract at power forward. The league's only other 260-pound small forward is LeBron James, a player after whom White says he has modeled his game some.

But the Wolves also need wing players who can handle the ball and create plays, two skills that make White so unique for his size. Hoiberg said he believes White and Love could play together because of their differences, with White being a "playmaker- facilitator" who has quick feet and defends better on the perimeter than he does down low.

"I love his game," Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor said. "He brings something a lot of guys his size don't have: He can create for others. He's got a little guy's skills in a big body, but he plays big."

Questions remain about White's defense and shooting. With those huge hands, he struggled to make 50 percent of his free throws last season.

At 21, he is also two years older than other draft prospects who played just one collegiate season. White's 2009 high-school class -- John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors -- all have played two NBA seasons already.

"That's a positive," he said. "I'm just a lot stronger. I'm physically ready to play. I really don't believe in potential. I only believe in production."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Tennessee 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Detroit 11/23/14 12:00 PM
New England
Green Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Jacksonville 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Cincinnati 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tampa Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Arizona 11/23/14 3:05 PM
Seattle
St. Louis 11/23/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Miami 11/23/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Washington 11/23/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
Dallas 11/23/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
NY Jets 11/24/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Baltimore 11/24/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Phoenix 122 FINAL
Philadelphia 96
Orlando 105 FINAL
Charlotte 100
Detroit 86 4th Qtr 0:57
Atlanta 94
Milwaukee 73 4th Qtr 2:47
Toronto 118
Boston 70 4th Qtr 11:44
Memphis 82
Cleveland 65 4th Qtr
Washington 80
Brooklyn 71 4th Qtr
Oklahoma City 74
San Antonio 91 4th Qtr
Minnesota 62
LA Lakers 59 3rd Qtr
Dallas 68
New Orleans 34 2nd Qtr 6:18
Denver 44
Chicago 9:30 PM
Portland
Utah 9:30 PM
Golden State
NY Rangers 0 Postponed
Buffalo 0
NY Islanders 5 FINAL(SO)
Pittsburgh 4
Boston 3 2nd OT :00
Columbus 3
New Jersey 0 1st Prd 11:41
Edmonton 0
Texas A&M 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 50
USC 72 FINAL
Drexel 70
Clemson 70 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Dayton 64 FINAL
Connecticut 75
Akron 51 FINAL
Miami-Florida 79
Seton Hall 68 FINAL
Nevada 60
Valparaiso 59 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 46
UNC Greensboro 79 FINAL
Longwood 81
Syracuse 66 FINAL
Iowa 63
Central Conn St 49 FINAL
Towson 58
Boston College 66 FINAL
West Virginia 70
Ill-Chicago 58 FINAL
Yale 70
Alcorn State 69 FINAL
Hampton 82
LSU 61 FINAL
Old Dominion 70
Prairie View 45 FINAL
Baylor 60
Montana State 0 Postponed
Buffalo 0
Maine 48 FINAL
Central Mich 76
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Eastern Mich 71
Wofford 54 FINAL
Fairfield 36
Troy 60 FINAL
Georgia 82
IUPU-Ft Wayne 69 FINAL
Georgia Tech 78
Stony Brook 65 FINAL
Hofstra 66
Boston Univ 65 FINAL
Kentucky 89
Loyola-Chicago 52 FINAL
Michigan State 87
Toledo 68 FINAL
Oregon 78
Lehigh 74 FINAL
Rider 78
Charlotte 65 FINAL
South Carolina 63
UNLV 60 FINAL
Stanford 89
George Washington 42 FINAL
Virginia 59
Hiwassee 53 FINAL
Western Carolina 72
Texas 71 FINAL
California 55
Florida Memorial 48 FINAL
FIU 74
Southern Ill 51 FINAL
Kent State 74
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
Monmouth 73
New Mexico 61 2nd Half 1:42
George Mason 52
Delaware State 62 2nd Half 4:02
Arkansas 83
ULM 41 2nd Half 4:12
Florida 46
Austin Peay 62 2nd Half 2:15
Illinois 103
Morehead State 51 2nd Half 3:12
Louisiana Tech 64
Jarvis Christian 70 FINAL
McNeese State 85
Milwaukee 64 2nd Half 5:21
Oklahoma State 75
Stephen F Austin 61 2nd Half 4:41
Xavier 71
Kennesaw St 55 2nd Half 3:41
North Dakota St 60
North Dakota 64 2nd Half 4:17
South Dakota St 58
Iona 46 2nd Half 18:06
Wake Forest 39
Louisiana 30 1st Half 3:47
Auburn 38
Georgia State 34 2nd Half
Colorado State 29
Marshall 20 1st Half 6:30
Louisville 25
Oral Roberts 16 1st Half 3:57
Oregon State 15
UC Riverside 17 1st Half 3:44
Utah 38
Idaho State 25 1st Half 3:30
Washington St 25
Illinois State 35 1st Half 4:03
Weber State 24
Florida A&M 20 1st Half 1:55
Grand Canyon 29
Sam Houston St 23 1st Half 4:54
South Dakota 25
Temple 6 1st Half 12:45
Duke 13
Penn State 6 1st Half 16:16
Cornell 6
Presbyterian 9:00 PM
American Univ
Delaware 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Washington 9:00 PM
Seattle
Kansas State 9:30 PM
Long Beach State
Pittsburgh 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(12) Kansas State 26 FINAL
West Virginia 20
North Carolina 45 FINAL
(25) Duke 20
Arkansas State 27 FINAL
Texas State 45
Kent State 0 Cancelled
Buffalo 0
Texas-El Paso 3 3rd Qtr
Rice 10
Air Force 0 1st Qtr 10:59
San Diego St 7
San Jose St 0 1st Qtr 11:00
Utah State 7
Char Southern 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(9) Georgia
South Alabama 11/22/14 11:00 AM
So Carolina
Rutgers 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(10) Michigan State
Minnesota 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(21) Nebraska
Northwestern 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(18) Marshall 11/22/14 11:00 AM
UAB
Kansas 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(23) Oklahoma
Indiana 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Penn State 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
(14) Eastern Ky 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Florida
TX-San Antonio 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
SMU 11/22/14 11:00 AM
UCF
Virginia Tech 11/22/14 11:30 AM
Wake Forest
Washington St 11/22/14 12:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
Louisiana Tech 11/22/14 12:00 PM
Old Dominion
Western Mich 11/22/14 12:00 PM
Central Mich
New Mexico 11/22/14 12:30 PM
(22) Colorado State
Eastern Mich 11/22/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Appalachian St 11/22/14 1:00 PM
Louisiana
Tulsa 11/22/14 2:00 PM
Houston
(15) Arizona 11/22/14 2:30 PM
(20) Utah
FIU 11/22/14 2:30 PM
North Texas
(8) Ole Miss 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Arkansas
Louisville 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Notre Dame
Maryland 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Texas Tech 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Iowa State
(14) Wisconsin 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Syracuse 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Boston College 11/22/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Georgia State 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Tulane 11/22/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Stanford 11/22/14 3:00 PM
California
Western Carolina 11/22/14 3:00 PM
(2) Alabama
ULM 11/22/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
So Florida 11/22/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
Colorado 11/22/14 3:30 PM
(3) Oregon
Fla Atlantic 11/22/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Samford 11/22/14 6:00 PM
(16) Auburn
Miami-Florida 11/22/14 6:00 PM
Virginia
Vanderbilt 11/22/14 6:30 PM
(4) Miss State
(19) Missouri 11/22/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
Oklahoma State 11/22/14 6:30 PM
(6) Baylor
(24) USC 11/22/14 7:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Cincinnati 11/22/14 7:00 PM
Connecticut
Boise State 11/22/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 11/22/14 9:30 PM
Washington
Fresno State 11/22/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
UNLV 11/22/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(5) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
(21) Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(18) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(19) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(15) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(11) UCLA
(22) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
BYU 11/29/14 2:00 AM
California
(20) Utah 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Colorado
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Oregon State
Kentucky 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Louisville
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(24) USC
So Carolina 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Clemson
Florida 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(1) Florida State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(25) Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
Montreal 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/23/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
TBA 11/30/14 5:00 PM
TBA
Delaware 60 FINAL
East Carolina 89
Wiley 65 FINAL
Sam Houston St 48
SE Louisiana 78 FINAL
Troy 80
St Francis-NY 63 FINAL
North Dakota 70
Eastern Kentucky 56 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Chattanooga 53 FINAL
(3) Notre Dame 88
LSU-Alexandria 0 Cancelled
Nicholls 0
UT Martin 47 FINAL
Dayton 78
William & Mary 59 FINAL
NC A&T 57
Eastern Illinois 55 FINAL
Florida State 91
Marquette 77 FINAL
Wake Forest 89
Columbia College 55 FINAL
SC State 97
Rider 51 FINAL
Towson 53
Cleveland State 74 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 79
Jackson State 48 FINAL
Mercer 80
Elon 67 FINAL
Charlotte 54
Hofstra 46 FINAL
Fordham 60
High Point 62 FINAL
NC State 66
Lehigh 74 FINAL
NJIT 54
Alabama A&M 50 FINAL
Samford 61
Morehead St 57 FINAL
Indiana 98
San Diego State 43 FINAL
Furman 60
Columbia 68 FINAL
Stony Brook 82
East Tenn St 79 FINAL
St Francis-PA 63
Evansville 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 77
Winthrop 48 FINAL
(4) Tennessee 81
Mount St Marys 42 FINAL
Campbell 60
Alabama 85 FINAL
Kansas 80
Canisius 68 FINAL
Bryant 71
USC 86 1st OT 0:57
Long Beach St 85
Saint Louis 74 FINAL
SE Missouri St 56
Graceland 53 2nd Half 0:15
Nebraska Omaha 89
Tulsa 65 2nd Half 4:50
Oral Roberts 60
ULM 54 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 82
Hampton 43 2nd Half 0:58
Kansas State 66
Bradley 46 2nd Half 7:02
Oklahoma 85
Houston 61 2nd Half 4:44
TX A&M-CC 58
North Florida 51 2nd Half 1:44
Miami-Florida 75
Arizona 49 2nd Half 0:50
Texas Tech 52
Massachusetts 31 2nd Half 12:46
North Texas 32
Kent State 42 2nd Half 3:28
Northwestern 66
Pepperdine 30 2nd Half
(19) Iowa 41
Denver 17 1st Half 1:52
Wyoming 48
(24) Gonzaga 48 1st Half 1:29
Montana State 16
Boise State 32 2nd Half
Southern Utah 31
Temple 12 1st Half 15:25
Georgetown 4
Missouri 14 1st Half 13:53
UNLV 4
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Montana 9:00 PM
Pacific
Portland 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Villanova 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Seattle 10:30 PM
Washington St
(14) California 10:59 PM
Hawaii

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers and Vikings do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close