Royce White's first year as a college basketball player -- a huge misnomer, since White didn't play college basketball at all last year -- was a total whirlwind. So perhaps it's fitting White will end up a Cyclone. (Or maybe it's not fitting, and I just wanted to make a totally lame pun, because I love lame puns. Whatever.)
Anyway, Ames, Iowa will be White's new home, where he'll join in the first year of home-state star and new coach Fred Hoiberg's rebuilding project. White is undeniably talented -- he was Minnesota's Mr. Basketball as a high school senior in 2009, and the centerpiece of an impressive Tubby Smith recruiting class last offseason.
He was also a massive disappointment during his freshman year. White pleaded guilty to theft and disorderly conduct stemming from an incident at the Mall of America. He was later charged with trespassing in connection to a stolen laptop from a campus dorm room, and he filmed a rather hilarious "retirement" video before making an ill-fated return to the Gophers.
White also carries eligibility issues. Thanks to his departure from Minnesota in the middle of the second semester, he'll need a waiver from the NCAA to receive a scholarship and become eligible to play. Iowa State is currently waiting on that waiver, and Hoiberg is hoping White's behavior during his brief recruitment means he's left his shaky side up in the Twin Cities:
“I am aware of Royce’s situation at Minnesota,” Hoiberg said via the school's release. “I have talked with a lot of people who are close to him, spoken with Royce in person multiple times and feel he is sincerely committed to meeting the expectations we have for our players. On one of his campus visits, Royce also met with institutional staff both inside and outside of the athletics department and he left very positive impressions on everyone.”
The lesson, as always, is that if you're talented, someone is always willing to give you a chance, no matter how much risk comes with it. In many ways, this is Hoiberg's first high-profile move as Iowa State head coach. White could figure things out and star as a freshman as soon as this fall. He could also flame out, leave the program, fail to qualify. Anything is possible. That "anything" is scary even for veteran coaches not trying to rebuild a program. Hoiberg ain't one of them.
Now it's up to White to forgo the erratic behavior, to utilize whatever resources Iowa State dedicates to making sure he gets academically eligible, to keep away from YouTube at all costs, and to make good on his talent once and for all. Second chances are easy to find. Third chances, less so.