If you take a sampling of the mock drafts across the net, one thing is clear; there is a very good possibility that Royce White will be property of the Boston Celtics after the draft has concluded. There are others who see White going earlier than Number 21, and who could blame them for thinking that way? White is long and athletic, and has the potential to become a very good pro. But odds are he will find himself slipping to the bottom half of the draft because he has an issue that might scare away prospective teams who need a player of his caliber.
More specifically, he has an anxiety disorder.
“It’s two different worlds for me. There’s who I am off the court, and who I am on the court,” White told USA Today in February.
White’s anxiety includes a debilitating fear of flying — he once drove 8.5 hours to an NCAA tournament game with his grandfather instead of flying.
Recently at the NBA Draft Combine in Indianapolis, White admitted to the AP, “I’m nervous, very nervous doing all of this.”
So why does it matter?
Because White is a top-10 talent (at least according to his college coach), yet he’s projected to go in the late-first round.
We’ve seen a minor shift recently in how sports teams look at “off the field issues” with it comes to drafting. In the run-up to the NFL Draft, a study showed that NFL teams should target players who are supremely talented but, for whatever reason, were slipping in the draft.
Perhaps teams will try to take advantage of the same inefficiency when it comes to things like anxiety disorders.
We’ve seen big-time athletes like Zach Greinke and Ricky Williams overcome anxiety issues and flourish. White undoubtedly has the skills, and if he can get his health in order, he could end up being the steal of the draft.
Me, I hope we draft Royce White. I think he’ll overcome his fear of flying, and I think he’ll turn out to be a steal in this draft.