RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Royce White

Posted by dnspewak on May 31st, 2012

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards, so for the next week or two we’ll present you with players who are projected near the end of the first round, and we’ll work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Royce White

School: Iowa State

Height/Weight: 6’8”, 270 pounds

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Royce White Turned Iowa State Into an NCAA Team (AP)

Overview: Before Royce White ever played a college basketball game, he made headlines for all the wrong reasons as a freshman at Minnesota. After signing with Tubby Smith’s program, he ran into legal trouble in a theft incident at the Mall of America, earning himself a quick suspension. He never stepped on the court with the Gophers, and he left the school by creating an Internet sensation through a bizarre YouTube video (now defunct). By the time he became eligible  after transferring to Iowa State, White’s bad boy image defined him as a player. And yet it took all of about five minutes for everybody to remember why he was a blue-chip recruit out of high school. In his first collegiate game, he torched Lehigh (yes, that Lehigh) for 25 points and a double-double. As the season progressed, he made a name for himself as a do-it-all point forward, the kind of matchup nightmare that led Missouri coach Frank Haith to compare him to Magic Johnson (to which White called “outrageous,” of course). He stormed through Big 12 play with double-double after double-double, leading the Cyclones to a surprising third-place finish and the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005. White was the obvious choice for Newcomer of the Year in the league, as well as first team All-Big 12 honors.

Will Translate to the NBA: White can succeed at the next level because he can beat defenders in a number of ways. Whether by posting up or taking his man off the dribble, he scores in a variety of different ways and sometimes seemed downright unguardable as a college player. At 6’8”, White plays like a guard in a forward’s body on the offensive end. Coach Fred Hoiberg used him as a point forward and let him go to work with the ball in his hands, and judging by Iowa State’s successful 23-11 season, the strategy worked. He created for his teammates, averaging five assists per game, and he also used his strength and size to bully opponents on the glass. His blend of guard-like ball-handling skills and his superior rebounding and post game makes him an intriguing asset to any NBA team.

Needs Work: White is not considered a lockdown defender at this point in his career, and he also turned the ball over a bit too much in his lone season at Iowa State. Sometimes he seemed out of control and almost too willing to make a play, finishing the season with an alarming 3.8 turnovers per game. White could also use some work on his perimeter game. As a Cyclone, he did not threaten defenses from beyond the arc. In fact, he did not attempt a three-pointer until a January 14 game against Kansas. From there, he made just four treys all season. White is also a poor free throw shooter, finishing with a 49.8 percent mark from the charity stripe in 2011-12.

Comparison Players: A common comparison for White is Boris Diaw, one that fits in many ways — both good and bad. Both players possess exceptional floor vision and passing skills for their size and can score from inside the paint or shooting from the mid-range, though White is also similarly built like Diaw in the sense that he needs to work himself into better shape. Diaw can fill up the stat sheet — like White did in his year at Iowa State — when he is engaged, but he can also be a complete non-factor when not involved in the flow of an offense. White may face a similar dilemma in that he won’t be the featured point forward star player in the NBA like he was in college, so he must adapt his game, much as Diaw has done in his new role with the Spurs.

Best Case Scenario: If the right combination of things come to fruition, then White could end up being the steal of the 2012 NBA Draft. This combination includes improving his shooting (most notably a poor free-throw percentage), getting into better shape, adapting to a new offensive role, and shedding concerns about his mental approach. But all of these things are obtainable, and the upside of Royce White is a unique offensive weapon that can add impressive efficiency to a unit. The risk is high and his limited athleticism won’t make it easy, but White was a star in his one year at Iowa State and has the tools to be an impact starter in the NBA.

Best NBA Fit: It’s unlikely that any NBA team is going to employ White in the same way that Hoiberg did at Iowa State, but he would still fit best with a team that can utilize his play-making skills. The Boston Celtics have back-to-back picks at #21 and #22 where he could be a fit, using White with a reserve unit that doesn’t have a true point guard to back up Rondo. Using his versatility, White could transition between being a ball-handler and a more traditional forward with the Celtics, a team that ranked 28th out of 30 NBA teams in offensive efficiency during the regular season and needs to improve the offense.

Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “The psychological issues have to be cleared by teams. His inability to fly remains a red flag for teams. Based on talent alone he would likely be a lottery pick.

*This post was contributed by RTC’s Big 12 Microsite writer, Danny Spewak, and Evan Jacoby. They can be found on Twitter @dspewak and @evanjacoby.

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