Royce White Aces Interview Process, Quells Important Offcourt ConcernsPosted by EJacoby on June 14th, 2012
No draft prospect’s stock is perhaps as volatile as former Iowa State point-forward Royce White, who’s been rumored to fall anywhere from the late lottery to the early second round. White led a solid Cyclones team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and field goal percentage last season as a dominant college forward with unquestionable ability as an impact pro player. But NBA evaluators are rightfully concerned about his many off the court issues — getting kicked off his first team (Minnesota), having trouble staying in shape, and, most importantly, his well-known anxiety disorder. Scouts fear that his personality traits could hinder his development and make it difficult for him to adapt to fast-moving changes at the next level. But this week at the NBA Draft Combine, White had a chance to speak face-to-face with league executives and draft scouts through the interrogation process, and he was phenomenal in the interview room. White was one of the best overall public speakers of the group, but more importantly he was refreshingly honest and insightful with answers to specific questions about his anxiety and his game. If NBA teams pass on White solely because of attitude concerns, that’s a mistake based on how well he carried himself in the interview room.
Overall, White was hands down the best interview in Chicago. Most prospects simply try not to hurt themselves during the interview process and choose to answer with standard player clichés: “I’ll do anything the team wants me to [...] I can play any position [...] My shot is better than I showed last season.” But White gave honest answers to every question, coming off as a confident young man that understands himself and his game. “Very mediocre; average,” said White about his jump shot. “Hopefully I can have the ball in my hands, I kind of proved that I’m good doing it. But if I don’t, that’s fine as well,” he said when asked about having to play off the ball in the league.
White identified his hobbies as philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and writing. When asked where he sees himself in five years, he said “hopefully in the NBA,” but either way “definitely helping people,” as that’s what his life consists of now. And he’s right, as White truly helps others every day through his public acknowledgement and honesty about his anxiety disorder that millions of others suffer from. “There’s more people that are affected in a positive way through me talking about it than just the negative effect it has on [my draft stock]. It would be selfish of me to worry about the negative impact it has on me.” White admits that his anxiety disorder and fear of flying are “valid concerns,” understanding that he’s a question mark to those that don’t know him. But he notes that he’s not worried about travelling come season time, as flying with teammates and coaches is much different than flying alone commercially. One would think that just the way he answers these difficult questions honestly and intelligently has to boost his draft stock.
At 6’8” and 270 pounds, one of the most dominant all-around players in college basketball last season, and the most intelligent interviewee at the Combine, White is becoming a more intriguing prospect with every passing day. He had a 34.5% assist percentage last season that was good for second in the Big 12, and this is coming from a bulky forward who also grabbed 9.3 rebounds per game. He was phenomenal in the NCAA Tournament in two games against Connecticut and Kentucky as well, outperforming several other pro prospects on those teams. Of course, it’s still unknown what role he’ll play at the next level, so he’s a basketball question mark just like most prospects. He didn’t fare great during athletic testing at the Combine, his jump shot is definitely a work in progress (including an atrocious 49.8% free throw percentage), and he has limited experience playing without the ball in his hands. But for someone whose stock was in dire jeopardy based on prior offcourt troubles, White is quickly putting those issues to rest. If Royce White slips on June 28, it’s hopefully due to basketball reasons and not attitude concerns; either way, he has the potential to become the steal of the 2012 NBA Draft.
Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.