Man, this Royce White promise/not promise is making me dizzy.
This seems like as good a time as any to promote two profiles on White that should be considered must-read, for two reasons:
1) He could become a Celtic, promise or otherwise.
2) He’s more fascinating than a blind Nascar driver.
Royce White’s neck hurts. His knee balloons and throbs. As he climbs into the back of a white Cadillac STS to better stretch out his 6-foot-8-inch frame, he turns on “Here Comes the Sun.” These ailments are souvenirs from workouts for the men who control his future. He’s just completed one with the decision makers of the Minnesota Timberwolves and is returning home to Ames, Iowa. He hustled for his hometown franchise, and it’d be comforting to be drafted there, where just a few years ago his bid to stay close for college ended so terribly.
A lot has changed since then. White, no longer a collegiate cautionary tale, is on the precipice of becoming a professional product. But the constant workouts are taking a toll on his body, and lately he’s been wondering if they’re designed for teams to explore his skill set or his mind. He thinks he knows the answer. There’s a secret code for players who have been deemed damaged goods. He’s a “talented enigma.” Or scouts aren’t sure about his “motor.” Or his “work ethic” and “maturity” are in question. It’s a new language that we take for granted, and these overwrought phrases do little to describe prospects pre-draft. None more so than Royce White.
To hear of a prospect with musical aspirations is to roll your eyes and wonder: Can he possibly be any good? White sits at the iMac in the makeshift studio in his apartment, feeling the weight of such presumptions. And he clicks on Logic Pro, a music editing program, striving to puncture them. White’s songs are not hip-hop but pop rock. They are not amateurish but anthemic, blending a half-dozen instruments. And White does not even write them for himself; he aspires to produce. “The NBA is talking about my anxiety disorder,” White says, speakers blaring. “What’ll they do when I gotta accept a Grammy?”
The rumination doesn’t end there. He also faults the league for inspiring so many inner-city kids to futilely devote their lives to basketball, adding, “I’m not scared of how David Stern is going to react when he hears that I said that.” Instead of attending the draft, White is throwing a party in Ames to raise more money for Orchard Place.
Until then, he will keep grappling with the same old stressors. Already a light sleeper, White has traveled across the country, alone and wide-eyed, for the first time since he was a teenage recruit. “And I’m scared as hell,” he admits. White flew commercial to five cities before Vye canceled his remaining workouts last week, fueling the latest round of intrigue—Is Royce hurt? Scared? The recipient of a first-round promise?
In those visits, puzzled execs liked to play casting director: Who are you? What can you be in the NBA? Magic? LeBron? Boris Diaw? The questioning was tense—not to mention ironic. The answer, tattooed and transparent, is still staring everyone in the face.