Ex-NBA player White to try MMA, eyes UFC belt

Former NBA player Royce White says his basketball days are over as he prepares for a career in mixed martial arts.

White, a first-round draft pick of the Houston Rockets in 2012, said he believes he could one day compete for the UFC's heavyweight belt.

"I'm one of the best athletes in the world," White told ESPN. "Among the NBA community, part of my appeal as a draft prospect was my unique size, athleticism, vision and that I probably have one of the 10 biggest set of hands in the NBA. I think all of those things will translate beautifully to the UFC."

White, 27, released a book on Wednesday called "MMA x NBA: A Critique of Modern Sport in America." He says he has been training for "six or seven months."

The former Iowa State star is 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, 15 pounds shy of MMA's heavyweight limit. He was named an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press in 2011-12 after averaging 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5 assists per game.

White was drafted 16th overall by Houston but never played a game for the Rockets. He signed multiple 10-day contacts with the Sacramento Kings in 2013, playing in three games, but was eventually let go. He has played in NBA Summer League and overseas since.

White, who lives with an anxiety disorder, has been an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness in sports.

"I've always been a fan of the fight game since I was young," White said. "I played point guard as a 265-pounder in the NCAA. In order to do so, not only do you have to have great court vision, you have to have great tempo and great footwork.

"Those things naturally translate to the fight game. I'm excited about it, but more so than anything, I'm excited about learning this thing that I've loved from the sidelines for so long, and applying it."

Information from ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz was used in this report.