Iowa State sophomore forward Royce White says he’s leaving the school after playing one season and declaring for the NBA draft.
White, the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year, said at a news conference Wednesday that he intended to sign with an agent soon. The 6-8, 270-pound forward from Minneapolis led the Cyclones with 13.4 points and 9.3 rebounds a game this season and helped Iowa State reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years.
White was at his best in the tournament, scoring 23 points with nine rebounds in an 87-71 loss to top-seeded Kentucky on Saturday.
White began his career at Minnesota in 2009-10 but transferred to Iowa State without playing a game. He sat out the 2010-11 season before blossoming into the Cyclones’ most indispensable player.
White left the hometown Gophers after a year filled with off-the-court issues. But he instantly became a team and fan favorite in Ames with his outgoing personality and unique game.
Strong and physical, he was also at times the team’s best ball-handler. White was the rare big man who could take his defender off the dribble and attack the basket, which helped him become the only player in the country to lead his team in points, rebounds, steals, assists and blocks.
White was also terrible from the foul line in his one season with the Cyclones, shooting just 49.8 percent, and he was upfront about his ongoing battle with anxiety issues.
Nonetheless, White feels he’s ready to test himself against the world’s best players.
Despite losing White, the Cyclones should be in contention for another NCAA tournament berth in 2012-13.
Iowa State will add former Michigan State point guard Korie Lucious and wing player Will Clyburn, a first-team all-Mountain West pick at Utah in 2010-11 after averaging 17.1 points and 7.8 rebounds. Guard Chris Babb and forward Melvin Ejim also return, and they’ll be bolstered by a recruiting class headlined by top-rated power forward Georges Niang – who could help fill White’s void in the post.