Royce White: A lottery talent stuck in the late first round


The Phoenix Suns most likely won’t select Royce White with the 13th pick.

In fact, it’s almost certain no team in the lottery will draft the 6-foot-8 point forward.

But if the Suns and the rest of the lottery do pass on the former Iowa State standout he could be “the one that got away” when teams look back at the 2012 Draft a few years from now.

There’s no question White is a lottery talent. He did literally everything in his one year with the Cyclones. The former Kentucky recruit turned Minnesota Golden Gopher turned Iowa State product led his team in all five major statistical categories. He played everything from point guard to center and with the help of head coach Fred Hoiberg helped bring the program out of the gutter.

“He led us in five statistical categories, I can’t remember another time that that happened at this level,” Hoiberg said.

White proved his worth as one of the best passing big men in the country. With his point guard skills and freakishly large hands he controlled the pace of the game, played with great poise and made passes foreign to most 6-foot-8 power forwards. He pushed the ball on the break, finished at the rim, isolated from the top of the key and got Iowa State into its offense from virtually everywhere on the floor.

“We used him as a facilitator in every spot on the floor. We used him in the post, on the elbows and on the perimeter,” Hoiberg said. “He’s got such a great feel for the game, which I think is something that will translate.”

White also crashed the boards, finished inside and held his own as a post defender. He’s NBA ready in a handful of areas, so why aren’t teams champing at the bit for the guy?

Character issues surrounded White after he dealt with legal issues at Minnesota and ultimately left the program. He more or less put those questions to bed at the NBA combine, however, as he showed his maturity, intellect, and love for music and other aspects of life outside of basketball.

So the next question is his anxiety disorder that impacts his endurance and ability to fly. Although this is a concern for teams, White is extremely open about the disease and involved in helping others affected by it. It didn’t slow him down at the collegiate level and although that’s one year there’s no reason to think it will at the NBA level.

“He was great. Just the things that he did in the community here he was very involved in different organizations,” Hoiberg said. “He spent one on one time with kids with anxiety and I can’t tell you how many letters and emails I got from people talking about how he helped their kid who has an anxiety disorder and what he was able to do and how he was able to funtion.”

White is as interesting a prospect as he is a person. On one hand he can help a team in a majority of ways. On the other can he be effective without the ball in his hands? Will he develop the necessary jump shot to keep defenses honest?

The Suns shouldn’t take White with the 13th pick in the draft. But there’s no question he would be a good fit in Phoenix. He could serve as a secondary ball-handler, push the tempo after grabbing a defensive rebound, and facilitate out of the high post a la Boris Diaw 2.0.

If the Suns were able to snatch up a second first-round pick White should undoubtedly be a target they consider. If Phoenix can’t acquire another pick, White may end up making the Suns and a handful of other teams regret doubting him.

“I think his game projects very well to the next level,” Hoiberg said. “With the extra space that you get in the pro game and his ability to get past a defender and make the instinctive pass when the defense helps is something that I think will make him an excellent player at the next level.”

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