Houston’s top draft pick misses start of camp,
wants plan in place to address fear of flying
Royce White is a baller.
As a sophomore at Iowa State last year he was a unanimous selection as Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and received honorable
mention recognition on the 2012 AP All-America teams.
Not bad for a guy who spent two years away from competitive basketball, after multiple run-ins with the police while a freshman at the University of Minnesota and his lifelong battle with generalized anxiety disorder led him to transfer before logging a minute on the court for his hometown team.
During that layoff while he waited for eligibility issues to clear up following his transfer to Iowa State he focused on his music, learned the piano and did a lot of posting on YouTube.
Apparently it was the formula for whatever ailed the 6-8, 261-pound forward. In addition to managing to stay out of trouble with the law, his first and only year with the Cyclones he averaged 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks a game. He was the only player in the nation to lead his team in all five major statistical categories.
Then the 21-year-old absolutely crushed things at the NBA scouting combine after choosing to forego his junior and senior seasons, showcasing his versatility, ball- handling and passing skills. The Houston Rockets selected him in the first round of the NBA Draft with the 16th pick and management.
So, what’s the problem?
Royce White is not a flier.
That anxiety disorder that has plagued him since childhood, has given him a particular distaste for flying over any distance longer than your average power dunk.
In fact he was so worried his mental health that he skipped reporting to the start of Rocket’s camp Tuesday – he also missed media day Monday – reportedly because he wanted to make sure the team had a plan to deal with the issue before lacing up his high-tops for his first practice.
Today ESPN.com is reporting that White told the site that he wants the team’s permission to travel to some games by bus.
“What it’s going to look like is every game that’s drivable,” White told ESPN.com. “I’m going to get a bus for myself. And I’m going to make that bus feel like home so that there’s a level of consistency in a job where inconsistency is very apparent because of the schedule.”
Thus far it appears the team is willing to work with White’s demands and White himself, through a statement released by his publicist and his own twitter account has praised what the team – and its fans thorough their messages of encouragement to his Twitter account – is trying to do for him.
“I appreciate all the support, it doesn’t cure anxiety, but it sure does bring a smile 2 my face,” he tweeted.
While, this might turn a couple of Rocket fans off to the team’s second biggest acquisition of the offseason, thoughts of him running amok on the court and opening up the lanes for their biggest, Jeremy Lin, might be enough to keep enthusiasm high among the base until the season starts.
Meanwhile, if the bus thing doesn’t work out it’s not like White has never flown before. He flew to games in college and has even made an international flight to Italy. Now, that he is getting paid to play he is just flexing his muscle to make sure his anxiety and the obsessive compulsive disorder that go with it stay in check.
“It causes me anxiety to know that serious consequences could happen if I do not express what I deal with, or if I am not truthful enough to ask for what I need, to be healthy. For me, hiding is no longer a healthy option in treating my anxiety or OCD, so I have asked for some help from the organization to ensure long-term health for myself,” read White’s statement in part. “… Mental illness is a very individual based disorder – very unique for each person. So for those who come forward and ask for help, a very unique support plan should be the solution, given the nature of mental illness.”
Hopefully, the Rockets and White will be able to work something out. With the kind of money they have riding on him this season, however, if all else fails Houston can always try the A-Team’s unique solution to the problem: