Above: Iowa State's Royce White dishing the ball while Mizzou's Ricardo Ratliffe and Kim English defend.
White showed off his LeBron James-esque (if you love him) or Boris Diaw-esque (if your not sure) ability to play like a point guard despite being 6-foot-8
A relatively unheralded prospect heading into the NCAA tournament, Royce White was projected to go by some in the 2nd round of next year's draft. Then he exploded for 23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists (should have been more team shot 3/22 from long range), 3 steals while shooting 75% against mighty Kentucky. Right around the time he went for a coast-for-coast dunk over Anthony Davis in the second half to help his team pull within 4, twitter took note, as "draft expert" Chad Ford was blasted for having him at 35 on his big board, despite having secretly sliding him up from 50 during the game.
Royce White is the most intriguing prospect in the draft, and it's not even close. The incredibly versatile was the only player to lead their team in points (13.4), rebounds (9.3), assists (5), steals (1.2), and blocks (.9) per game. For comparison's sake, the best high school basketball player since LeBron, according to SI averaged 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State's men's basketball coach, was gutsy enough to led Royce bring the ball up the court and act as a point forward. For those of you who don't know, a point forward is someone with the size of a forward, but they play as a point guard. Below you can see some of his playmaking.
Royce White is ridiculous, but Fred Hoiberg deserves props too. Not that many coaches would give him this type of freedom with the ball.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 18, 2012
While White has the handles, size, and passing of LeBron, he certainly doesn't have the athleticism to guard a D-Rose, John Wall, or even Ramon Sessions. But he wouldn't get destroyed by their backups, CJ Watson, Shelvin Mack, and Steve Blake. And if there is a coach in the NBA with as much balls as Fred Hoiberg, it might well be George Karl.
White definitely has the ability to power through small forwards and guards. In post situations his strength and raw power near the basket make him very effective, especially because of his ability to dish the ball. Imagine White posting a helpless Steve Blake, if no double comes he dunks it or lays it in, if say Bynum doubles, that leaves a wide-open slam for Javale. The only problem in his game is his shooting as he shot just 50% from the FT line. He appears to have correct form, which means his free throws should improve. His large hands help him be an exceptional rebounder, but make it harder for him to shoot from longrange.
The best part about this scenario is that if he fails working the point, he can be a forward like most project him to be. The main risk with him is that he has an anxiety disorder, to learn more read this wonderful article. Instead of drafting White the Nuggets could also choose 7ft Brazilian C Fab Melo from Syracuse to help on the inside. They could also choose Tony Wroten, a bigger point guard some think would be a perfect compliment for Ty Lawson. If the pick works out, Ujiri would have once again caught lightning in a bottle with the best and most unique bench in the league.
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