Royce White is playing competitive basketball again.
The Minneapolis native and former 2012 first-round NBA draft pick produced back-to-back triple-doubles over the weekend in the National Basketball League of Canada. He is the first player in NBLC history to achieve this feat.
White is a starting forward for the London Lightning of Ontario. His last action was in the 2015 NBA Summer League after playing in just three games with the Sacramento Kings in 2014.
He scored 27 points in the Lightning’s season opener, totaled a double-double in the next game, and by the third game of the season earned his first triple-double with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. He outdid himself the next night with 30 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, two blocks and two assists for another triple-double.
White was named the league’s Central Division Player of the Week Sunday night.
The 6-8, 25-year-old Minnesota native battles an anxiety disorder that has been at the center of several well-documented conflicts with his former NBA employers.
The conflicts started with the Houston Rockets and followed White to Philadelphia and then Sacramento, where he made his NBA debut in 2014. He played just three games with the Kings while on a 10-day contract and hasn't played in the league since.
White has become an advocate for mental health awareness and started the organization Anxious Minds.
“How we live, how we think, how we feel, how we interact with one another is mental health,” White said in a recent interview with the NBLC, “and as soon as we get a pulse on that we’ll be moving in a great direction as a species, so I am always going forward with that work and it is fulfilling. It’s way more fulfilling than basketball.”
White still has aspirations to play in the NBA, though he appears content with his new purpose off the court.
“I still love basketball,” he said. “There’s something you can’t simulate in that work [with Anxious Minds] that basketball and sport does simulate, but that’s fine. Hopefully there’s never a time where I have to go without one or the other, and I shouldn’t have to.
“The last four years, I’ve been in a position where those two things have been on two sides of a fence, and that’s not the way it should be and now it’s shaping up that that’s not the way it is, and it’s starting here in London.
“I’m excited to get back playing, and we’ve got a team here that has goals and players that have aspirations to move to different levels and be successful as basketball players. I definitely want to help and not distract from that in any way.”
White became a prep star at DeLaSalle before transferring to Hopkins where he was eventually honored as Mr. Basketball in 2009. He started his college career at Minnesota and then transferred to Iowa State. He was drafted by Houston in 2012 with the No. 16 overall pick.
“The last four years has … brought me to a really good place where now I can just think basketball clear and free in this environment and be supported,” White said. “I’ve found a place where I am supported, and really, you can’t ask for more."