CHICAGO – Let the record show that Royce White came here from Indianapolis, after working out for the Pacers, by plane. A plane that did not taxi the entire way. A plane that went airborne for longer than a player on a jump ball.
This ordinarily is not worth mentioning, but there is little ordinary about the draft dilemma of NBA teams weighing the first-round talent of a versatile forward against concerns within some front offices that an anxiety disorder could cause travel complications. White insists there will be none. He has been very upfront about the condition, is willing to answer every delicate question from executives. He wants to be a role model for others dealing with mental-health issues and says any thought that a perceived fear of flying would cause him to miss NBA games is wrong.
The Iowa State product is thankfully unique in other ways as well. He is turning Draft night into an open-house fundraiser at an Ames, Iowa, clinic that specializes in the treatment of children with behavioral disorders. And now the Minneapolis native hopes the Timberwolves will take him at No. 18 because he owes the Twin Cities after off-court incidents forced him to transfer from the University of Minnesota to Iowa State before ever playing for the Golden Gophers.
“Oh, yeah, it hurts big time,” he said of the Minnesota college career that never was. “Not for the reasons people think. Just more because I’m really loyal. I’m a really loyal guy and I really want the chance to be able to play for my home town and the home-town fans and that community.”
He wants that chance to start June 28.
“It kind of has to do with me not being able to play as a Gopher,” said White, who is scheduled to work out for the Timberwolves on Tuesday. “I’m really loyal to my city. The way that they raised me, I really feel like they had a big impact on who I am as a person today, just the culture and the place in general. It would be great to be able to get back and give back to those fans in a multiple number of ways.”
The Timberwolves are in the right Draft range — the late-teens is a realistic target for White, although other teams see him more in the 20s and some even say the second round is a possibility. He is doing his best to make sure the travel concerns are a non-factor in the deliberations the next three weeks, pointing out that he gets very nervous just before flights but that the plane ride itself is not a problem.
The pledge is to make every game for any team. Doing it for the Timberwolves would add to it, though. For the Timberwolves and the hometown fans.