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

Detroit 6:00 PM
Washington
Atlanta 6:30 PM
Miami
Toronto 6:30 PM
New York
Memphis 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Brooklyn 7:30 PM
Dallas
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Utah
San Antonio 8:00 PM
Phoenix
Buffalo 2:00 PM
Florida
Detroit 2:00 PM
Nashville
Carolina 4:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 4:00 PM
Columbus
Arizona 4:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:00 PM
Montreal
NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Colorado
St. Louis 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Ottawa 9:00 PM
San Jose
Kennesaw St 19 1st Half 10:36
Lipscomb 23
Navy 20 1st Half 11:13
Loyola-Maryland 7
Bucknell 11:00 AM
American Univ
NC State 11:00 AM
Boston College
East Carolina 11:00 AM
UCF
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Clemson
Lehigh 11:00 AM
Colgate
Louisville 11:00 AM
Florida State
Missouri 11:00 AM
Georgia
Army 11:00 AM
Lafayette
Michigan 11:00 AM
Maryland
Georgetown 11:00 AM
St Johns
Rhode Island 11:30 AM
La Salle
Western Carolina 12:00 PM
Citadel
Nebraska Omaha 12:00 PM
IUPUI
Maine 12:00 PM
New Hampshire
Samford 12:00 PM
Va Military
Presbyterian 12:00 PM
Winthrop
Utah State 1:00 PM
Air Force
Vermont 1:00 PM
Albany
UMBC 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Indiana State 1:00 PM
Bradley
Butler 1:00 PM
DePaul
Illinois State 1:00 PM
Evansville
Wright State 1:00 PM
Ill-Chicago
Fla Gulf Coast 1:00 PM
Jacksonville
Ole Miss 1:00 PM
LSU
North Carolina 1:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Wagner 1:00 PM
Mount St Marys
TCU 1:00 PM
Oklahoma
Delaware 1:00 PM
Towson
Cincinnati 1:00 PM
Tulane
Dayton 1:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Northern Iowa 1:00 PM
Wichita State
Drexel 1:00 PM
William & Mary
Oakland 1:00 PM
Green Bay
Villanova 1:00 PM
Xavier
Campbell 1:00 PM
Longwood
Sarah Lawrence 1:30 PM
NJIT
Middle Tennessee 2:00 PM
UAB
UNC-Asheville 2:00 PM
Liberty
Southern Utah 2:00 PM
North Dakota
Utah Valley U 2:05 PM
Chicago State
ULM 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Bowling Green 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Long Island 2:30 PM
Sacred Heart
West Virginia 3:00 PM
Baylor
Holy Cross 3:00 PM
Boston Univ
MD-Eastern Shore 3:00 PM
Delaware State
Wofford 3:00 PM
Furman
Montana State 3:00 PM
Idaho
Hofstra 3:00 PM
James Madison
Iowa State 3:00 PM
Kansas State
Arkansas 3:00 PM
Kentucky
Missouri State 3:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Fordham 3:00 PM
Massachusetts
Nicholls 3:00 PM
McNeese State
East Tenn St 3:00 PM
Mercer
Coppin State 3:00 PM
Morgan State
San Diego 3:00 PM
Portland
Gardner-Webb 3:00 PM
Radford
St Francis-PA 3:00 PM
Robert Morris
Duquesne 3:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Creighton 3:00 PM
Seton Hall
Oklahoma State 3:00 PM
Texas Tech
Alabama 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Virginia Tech 3:00 PM
Virginia
Bethune-Cookman 3:00 PM
NC Central
St Francis-NY 3:00 PM
Bryant
Drake 3:05 PM
Southern Ill
High Point 3:30 PM
Char Southern
Central Conn St 3:30 PM
Fair-Dickinson
Eastern Mich 3:30 PM
Western Mich
Texas 4:00 PM
Kansas
Chattanooga 4:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
SE Louisiana 4:00 PM
Central Arkansas
South Dakota St 4:00 PM
South Dakota
Montana 4:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Georgia State 4:15 PM
Troy
Old Dominion 4:30 PM
North Texas
Arkansas State 4:30 PM
Texas State
Texas Southern 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Tennessee St 5:00 PM
Belmont
Princeton 5:00 PM
Brown
Dartmouth 5:00 PM
Cornell
Tennessee 5:00 PM
Florida
Jacksonville St 5:00 PM
Morehead State
San Jose St 5:00 PM
Nevada
Florida A&M 5:00 PM
NC A&T
Iowa 5:00 PM
Penn State
Loyola Marymount 5:00 PM
Pepperdine
Miss State 5:00 PM
South Carolina
Savannah State 5:00 PM
SC State
Miss Valley St 5:30 PM
Jackson State
Alcorn State 5:30 PM
Southern U
Prairie View 6:00 PM
Alabama A&M
Harvard 6:00 PM
Columbia
George Washington 6:00 PM
Davidson
Syracuse 6:00 PM
Duke
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Eastern Ky
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
Elon
Stony Brook 6:00 PM
Hartford
Hampton 6:00 PM
Howard
Northwestern 6:00 PM
Illinois
Western Ill 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Kent State
Incarnate Word 6:00 PM
Lamar
Cal State Fullerton 6:00 PM
Long Beach State
TX-San Antonio 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Marshall
Richmond 6:00 PM
Saint Josephs
George Mason 6:00 PM
Saint Louis
Austin Peay 6:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Murray State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
Penn 6:00 PM
Yale
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Stetson 6:00 PM
North Florida
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Grand Canyon 6:05 PM
UMKC
Abilene Christian 6:15 PM
New Orleans
Northeastern 7:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
Tulsa 7:00 PM
Memphis
Wyoming 7:00 PM
UNLV
Central Mich 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Denver 7:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Rice
Boise State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
St Marys-CA 7:00 PM
Santa Clara
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
Sam Houston St 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
New Mexico St 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
FIU 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Ga Southern 7:15 PM
Louisiana
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Grambling St 7:30 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Auburn 7:30 PM
Texas A&M
Arizona 8:00 PM
Utah
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UC Davis 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
New Mexico 9:00 PM
Fresno State
BYU 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Pacific 9:00 PM
San Francisco
Idaho State 9:00 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 9:05 PM
Portland State
UC Riverside 9:30 PM
CS-Northridge
Washington 9:30 PM
USC
CS-Bakersfield 9:30 PM
Seattle
UC Irvine 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Michigan 11:00 AM
Illinois
Lipscomb 11:00 AM
Kennesaw St
North Florida 12:00 PM
Stetson
Samford 12:00 PM
Mercer
Liberty 12:00 PM
Campbell
North Texas 12:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Francis-NY 12:00 PM
Bryant
St Francis-PA 12:00 PM
Robert Morris
Long Island 12:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Sam Houston St 12:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Kent State 12:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
ULM 12:00 PM
Appalachian St
Boston U 12:05 PM
Holy Cross
Nicholls 12:15 PM
McNeese State
Akron 1:00 PM
Buffalo
Ball State 1:00 PM
Western Mich
MD-Eastern Shore 1:00 PM
Delaware State
Northern Ill 1:00 PM
Eastern Michigan
Bowling Green 1:00 PM
Ohio U
Central Michigan 1:00 PM
Toledo
Coppin State 1:00 PM
Morgan State
Bethune-Cookman 1:00 PM
NC Central
Central Conn St 1:00 PM
Fairleigh Dickinson
Memphis 1:00 PM
(1) Connecticut
Georgia Tech 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
East Carolina 1:00 PM
Temple
Marist 1:00 PM
Rider
Michigan State 1:00 PM
Purdue
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Manhattan
Niagara 1:00 PM
Iona
East Tenn St 1:00 PM
(18) Chattanooga
Furman 1:00 PM
Wofford
Longwood 1:00 PM
Charleston Southern
UNC-Asheville 1:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Northern Ky 1:00 PM
USC Upstate
Winthrop 1:00 PM
Presbyterian
Western Ill 1:30 PM
South Dakota
Detroit 1:35 PM
Valparaiso
Cleveland State 2:00 PM
Milwaukee
Lafayette 2:00 PM
Army
Arkansas State 2:00 PM
Texas State
Georgia State 2:00 PM
Troy
Portland State 2:00 PM
Sacramento St
IUPUI 2:00 PM
South Dakota St
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
Belmont
Eastern Illinois 2:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Jacksonville St 2:00 PM
Morehead St
Kansas State 2:00 PM
TCU
Cincinnati 2:00 PM
SMU
SE Louisiana 2:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Denver 2:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Tulane 2:00 PM
Tulsa
IUPU-Ft Wayne 2:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Air Force 3:00 PM
Utah State
San Diego State 3:00 PM
Boise State
Fresno State 3:00 PM
New Mexico
Florida A&M 3:00 PM
NC A&T
Gonzaga 3:00 PM
BYU
South Florida 3:00 PM
UCF
UCLA 3:00 PM
Washington
(3) Baylor 3:00 PM
Iowa State
Miss Valley St 3:00 PM
Jackson State
Tenn Tech 3:00 PM
Eastern Kentucky
UMKC 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Seattle 3:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Texas Southern 3:00 PM
Alabama State
Santa Clara 3:00 PM
St Marys-CA
UNLV 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Savannah State 3:00 PM
SC State
Alcorn State 3:00 PM
Southern U
Bucknell 3:00 PM
American Univ
Oakland 3:00 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Eastern Washington 3:00 PM
Montana
Idaho 3:00 PM
Montana State
Weber State 3:00 PM
Idaho State
Radford 3:00 PM
High Point
Green Bay 3:30 PM
Youngstown St
Austin Peay 3:30 PM
SE Missouri St
Wagner 3:30 PM
Mount St Marys
Portland 4:00 PM
San Diego
Nevada 4:00 PM
San Jose St
Stephen F Austin 4:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Incarnate Word 4:00 PM
Lamar
Abilene Christian 4:00 PM
New Orleans
Pepperdine 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
San Francisco 4:00 PM
Pacific
Prairie View 4:00 PM
Alabama A&M
Hampton 4:00 PM
Howard
Chicago State 4:00 PM
Utah Valley U
Murray State 4:00 PM
UT Martin
Cal Poly 4:00 PM
Cal-Irvine
UC Santa Barbara 4:00 PM
UC Davis
Marshall 4:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
UAB 5:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Western Ky 5:00 PM
FIU
Georgia Southern 5:00 PM
Louisiana
Grambling 5:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Ark-Little Rock 5:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Cornell 5:00 PM
Dartmouth
Columbia 5:00 PM
Harvard
Brown 5:00 PM
(14) Princeton
USC 5:00 PM
Washington St
(24) California 5:00 PM
(7) Oregon State
Yale 6:00 PM
Penn
Loyola-Maryland 6:00 PM
Navy
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
(21) Fla Gulf Coast
Long Beach St 6:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Rice 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Colgate 6:30 PM
Lehigh
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Kansas 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northern Colorado 9:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which is your favorite 'return' by a Minnesota athlete?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close