After a brilliant season at Iowa State, Royce White -- a former Minnesota Mr. Basketball and two-time state high school champion, once with DeLeSalle and once with Hopkins -- was a first-round draft selection of the Kevin McHale-led Houston Rockets last June.
He hasn't yet played in an NBA game, and it isn't because he's suffering from a physical injury. White's problems are psychological. He readily admits he suffers from an anxiety disorder that involves a severe fear of flying. And during the course of a recent interview with Chuck Klosterman, White, 21, traces his problems back to a fateful experience five years ago in Forest Lake.
[jump] From the Klosterman piece:
White's problems began at age 16, in a cabin outside of Minneapolis, on the first (and only) day he ever smoked marijuana. The episode may superficially seem like a standard case of weed-induced paranoia, but that's not how it felt to White. "I think it was in Forest Lake, Minnesota," he recalls. "I had an out-of-body experience. It felt like I was watching myself have the experience. It was so traumatic for me, and I had such a bad reaction, I started having panic attacks for the next two or three months, in rapid succession. Sometimes two or three a day."As a Forest Lake native myself, I can tell you from experience that many kids go off the rails after they start toking in Flaketown. Though, in fairness, the cases I'm familiar with involved much more than a single toke of herb, that's for sure.
White hopes to get his basketball career back on beginning track today when he reports to the Rockets' Developmental League team in the Rio Grande Valley. But if the Klosterman piece can be believed, White might be less-than-ready for game action. During his recent break from basketball, White said he's been working out "very sparingly" and has only been shooting baskets "once a week." Not exactly the stuff of champions!