Royce White made his departure from Iowa State basketball official Wednesday, about as surprising a development as the Denver Broncos trading Tim Tebow after signing Peyton Manning.
If you’re within dunking range of the NBA draft’s first round and you’re 20 years old, you go pro.
Unless you’re a Kentucky fan and used to such things, it’s usually a hollow feeling when one of your team’s players do a one-and-done. Of course, White was actually a two-and-done since he spent his transfer year in Ames as well as the season just ended, when he became an All-Big 12 player and the talk of the town at the NCAA tourney in Louisville last week.
The talk of the town aside from Kentucky’s own team, that is.
The perception about White and his NBA future got altered for the better in Louisville. He overwhelmed Connecticut and its supposed future lottery pick of a center in freshman Andre Drummond, who was a cipher against the Cyclones.
White then battled a bevy of Kentucky lottery picks-in-waiting, and overwhelmed them at times. But no power forward is an island.
Yet, against competition as good as American college basketball has to offer, the 6-foot-8 sophomore was nobody’s fool.
So off he goes, and maybe he’ll land in the right situation and have a happy career.
What can’t be denied is White held up his end of the bargain with Iowa State. He put his legal troubles from a year at the University of Minnesota behind him. He was a good citizen, a good teammate, and a darn good ballplayer.
Iowa State’s string of six seasons without an NCAA tourney berth was ended, and the Cyclones were 12-6 in the Big 12. Job well done.
All the talk that Fred Hoiberg was taking on a lot of risk by turning his roster into Transfer Central has been unfounded so far. If forward Will Clyburn (Utah) and point guard Korie Lucious (Michigan State) help ISU back to the NCAAs in 2013, you may have fans and sports writers watching the transfer wire just as closely as they do high school recruiting.
For those on the eastern side of the state who tsk-tsk the usage of transfers, they may want to state how they feel about these players having left their original colleges for Iowa: Gerry Wright, Matt Bullard, Andre Woolridge, Luke Recker, Adam Haluska.
If you can get a good transfer who doesn’t seem like much of a risk as a human, so be it. If you can get a great prep who could leave for the NBA after one season, you know you want him. The problem is getting him to want you.
Michigan freshman guard Trey Burke is inquiring about his NBA draft status. If he goes pro? Hey, the Wolverines earned a share of the Big Ten championship. It wouldn’t have happened without him.
Many people have lambasted John Calipari for his “rent-a-player” revolving door. He didn’t write the rules. He may want to make sure he obeys them. But can he be faulted for bringing in elite players for just one to help him do what he’s being paid to do, which is win?
Iowa State should be in good shape next season. Depth shouldn’t be a problem in any way, shape or form. Besides Lucious and Clyburn, there are returning starters Melvin Ejim and Chris Babb. Anthony Booker, Tyrus McGee, Percy Gibson and Bubu Palo helped out this season, and an incoming freshman forward named Georges Niang sounds like quite a catch.
It would have been fun to see what ISU would have been with one more year of White. But now when Fred Hoiberg tells recruits he knows how to send players to the NBA, it’s more than a concept.