Spotlight on 2012 NBA Draft Prospects: Royce White

Royce White

School: Iowa State  |  Year: Sophomore  |  Age: 21  |  Born: April 10, 1991  |  Position: SF/PF
Height: 6’8”  |  Weight: 240  |  From: Minneapolis, MN  |  Best Case Scenario: Lamar Odom

2011-12 34 5.1 9.6 53.4% 0.1 0.4 33.3% 3.0 6.0 49.8% 13.4

2011-12 31.5 2.5 6.8 9.3 5.0 1.2 0.9 3.8 1:0.8

Royce White will be one of the biggest wild cards of the 2012 NBA draft class come draft night. The 6 foot 8, 240 pound point-forward had a dominating lone season at Iowa State following his transfer from the University of Minnesota due to legal troubles. The Minnesota high school superstar won state championships with both De La Salle and Hopkins high schools, and was a top-20 recruit when he committed to Minnesota. One stolen laptop and altercation with a Mall of America security guard later, White found himself transferring to Iowa State, led by new coach and former T-Wolf Fred Hoiberg. Hoiberg, a player in the NBA for 10 seasons, says that White is as good of a dribbler for his size as any player he has seen, including NBA players. Leading the Cyclones in points, assists, rebounds, blocks, and steals, White exploded onto the NCAA scene with his extremely polished all around game and his high basketball IQ. Possessing an impressive wingspan of around 7 feet and a large frame, White already has an NBA body with some room to add mass. His potential need to put on increased muscle mass will depend on which position he plays in the NBA, SF or PF. He is hyper-athletic and boasts a strong vertical leap, and paired with his explosiveness, strength, and agility, it creates for a lethal combination.

White displayed his ability to score off the dribble as well as off-ball this season. He saw much of his time on the floor with the ball in his hands, and assumed the role of both top scorer and distributor. Seeing the floor very well, White does an excellent job of not broadcasting his moves and uses his ability to attract double teams to find the open man more often than not. He is a very unselfish player and makes things easy for his teammates, rarely forcing shots and uses his incredible combination of strength and explosiveness to exploit one-on-one matchups. He is equally comfortable using either hand dribbling, and keeps the ball low, using his large frame to keep opponents from picking his pocket. White does an excellent job of maintaining body control while driving on an opponent, being very smart about not lowering his shoulder into his defender and committing offensive fouls. He has a very good center of gravity and is able to change directions promptly while driving at full speed.

As a passer, White accurately and purposefully sets teammates up with on-target passes, which contributed to him leading the Cyclones in assists this season. He is a very strong passer and is also prevalent in transition, as he is a very able and accurate outlet passer. Because of Iowa State’s heavy reliance on White to create offense, he possessed a fairly high turnover rate. However, with better players around him, he should not have a hard time lowering this rate.

On the low post, White utilizes his strength and tremendous footwork, using shot fakes and a bevy of post moves to keep his defender off balance. He was much quicker than much of the NCAA frontcourts, and has a very polished back-to-the-basket game. He is very good at sensing which side a defender is committing to, and effectively spins to the opposite side, creating wide-open dunks and layups. On the low block, he does not waste any dribbles and backs down his opponents for high percentage looks, rarely settling for a fade-away. He has a very complete interior game to pair with his great perimeter play, stretching opposing defenses and creating mismatches for all opposing defenses. In the paint, he attacks the rim with reckless abandon and uses his strength and explosiveness to attract contact, getting high percentage buckets while getting to the free throw line at a very good rate.

White’s strength, athleticism, and motor make him a very good rebounder. He does an outstanding job of projecting where shots are going to end up and is relentless when pursuing the ball. He finds and maintains inside position and creates extra possessions for his team. Would be a very good rebounding SF in the NBA.

White’s biggest question marks stem from his ability to shoot the ball efficiently. This season, he shot the ball relatively well from long range, but it is unclear if his three-point shooting can translate to the NBA. His shooting mechanics are not spectacular, but he does maintain a high, consistent release point and an ability to get shots up over defenders. White needs to do a better job of always keeping his body and shoulders square to the hoop throughout his shot, as he tends to let his body twist and fade at times. He is not a great spot up shooter and finds the majority of his success with midrange and closer jumpers. White possesses incredibly large hands and it actually makes it more difficult for him to shoot than the average player. Although he got to the free throw line at a good rate this season, he only shot 50% from the charity stripe and must improve.

White proved to be more than an offensive force in his short time at Iowa State, finishing as the team’s top defender. Because of his versatility, White can defend the 3,4, and even some 5s and gives full effort on virtually all possessions. In the interior, he is a tough object to move. Maintaining a great center of gravity and never cheating to either side of an opponent with his back to the basket, he is smart about staying straight up when contesting shots but also knows when to block shots. White is not an elite leaper, but he is a capable shot blocker. He has a chance to be an impact defensive player at the next level.

White surprised many when he decided to turn pro after only one season of NCAA ball, and his documented fear of flying and his anxiety disorder will likely keep him out of the lottery in the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft. However, he possesses elite ability and was one of the top players in college basketball this year.

Follow Royce White on Twitter @Highway_30