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

Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 35 FINAL
Arizona 6
Denver 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 FINAL
Miami 100
Detroit 105 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
LA Lakers 101 FINAL
Sacramento 108
Philadelphia 96 FINAL
Orlando 88
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Washington 92
Indiana 100 FINAL
Minnesota 96
New Orleans 101 FINAL
Oklahoma City 99
Colorado 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Dallas 6 FINAL(SO)
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL(OT)
Winnipeg 3
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
FIU 69 FINAL
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
ULM 50 FINAL
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
USC 75 FINAL
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 59 FINAL
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 52 FINAL
Kent State 53
San Jose St 53 FINAL
Washington St 82
Alcorn State 45 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 78
Sacramento St 47 FINAL
Seattle 66
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
IUPUI 62
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
NC A&T 43 FINAL
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
NJIT 50 FINAL
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
UNLV 71 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 74
UCLA 50 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 42 FINAL
(21) Miss State 68
Illinois-Chicago 55 FINAL
Old Dominion 61

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

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