Former Minnesota Mr. Basketball Royce White signs with Iowa St, looking for fresh start

By Luke Meredith, AP
Monday, July 12, 2010

Minnesota standout Royce White signs with Iowa St

DES MOINES, Iowa — Royce White needed a second chance and Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg needed talent.

If White can avoid the trouble that plagued him during a short stint at Minnesota, he and the Cyclones could get what they’ve been looking for. The skilled power forward who left Minnesota under a cloud agreed Monday to play basketball at Iowa State.

“He’s a very engaging kid, a very smart kid, and he fully admits to making a mistake,” Hoiberg said. “Everybody involved with it, they all thought that he was genuine about it and that he deserved another chance. We’re excited to have him on board.”

White, a 6-foot-8, 250-pound native of Minneapolis, was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball in 2009. He signed with Minnesota but never played a game for the hometown Golden Gophers.

White was suspended last fall after an incident at the Mall of America and later pleaded guilty to theft and disorderly conduct. White left Minnesota in February after being charged with trespassing in connection to an alleged theft of a laptop computer from a university dorm.

Hoiberg said he talked to numerous people close to White and believes he’s committed to meeting the expectations the Cyclones have for their players.

White has four years of eligibility left and is in the process of applying for a waiver from the NCAA to become eligible next season. Iowa State said it expects to learn the results of that waiver request later this summer.

The Cyclones could use a player with White’s skill immediately.

Star forward Craig Brackins left for the NBA and was taken in the first round of the draft. Marquis Gilstrap left the program after his request for an extra year of eligibility was denied by the NCAA, promising center Justin Hamilton transferred to LSU and forward LaRon Dendy transferred after Hoiberg was hired.

Whenever White begins his career with the Cyclones, he’ll have to keep his nose clean. He insisted Monday that he’s focused on making smarter decisions.

“I definitely think that the hurdles that I have overcome definitely changed me in a way where I’m very, very cautious about what I do on a day-to-day basis,” White said.

White’s talent has never been questioned. He was ranked the 19th-best player in the country in the class of 2009 by and, and was one of just 20 players selected for the Jordan Brand Classic in 2009.

White, who said he grew up rooting for Hoiberg when he played for the Timberwolves, will be one of the most highly touted players to join Iowa State in recent memory.

Hoiberg called White is a “world-class” talent who has the ability to be a high-level NBA player someday.

“The thing I like best about Royce is that he’s a very unselfish player,” he said. “You totally set your offense differently with Royce on the basketball floor. Use him as a facilitator, and you put him on the elbows, you let him attack and make plays. And he’s a very willing passer.”

The addition of White is another sign that Hoiberg isn’t willing to wait long to remake a program that’s fallen on hard times.

White is the fourth transfer Hoiberg has signed since he took over for Greg McDermott in April, joining guards Darion “Jake” Anderson (Northern Illinois) and Chris Babb (Penn State) and forward Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois).

Anderson has petitioned the NCAA to play next season, and Iowa State is confident his request will be granted. Babb and Booker won’t be eligible until the 2011-2012 season.

Iowa State, which finished 15-17 last season, will bring back just three players from last year’s roster: guards Diante Garrett and Scott Christopherson and forward Jamie Vanderbeken, who played significant minutes last season. The Cyclones has also signed five recruits for next season.

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