Houston Rockets first-round draft pick Royce White is a no-show at training camp and said he and the team are working on a plan to address his fear of flying.
The 6-foot-8 White was the 16th overall pick after one season at Iowa State. White suffers from anxiety and fear of flying. He says on Twitter that he’s working with the team on an ”innovative plan” to balance treatment with the NBA schedule.
”Anxiety isn’t keeping me from camp,” White wrote, ”taking a Proactive approach to my mental illness instead of reactive is.#StayingAheadOfMyDisorder.”
White said he has an agreement with the team to take a bus to select games. KRIV-TV reported that the agreement is pending league approval. The Rockets would not comment beyond a statement that said they ”are committed to Royce’s long term success and we will continue to support him now and going forward.”
White said he offered to buy the bus himself.
”I will not travel every game via bus,” he wrote. ”It was decided that the less flying the less stress.”
The Rockets opened training camp this week in McAllen, near the Texas-Mexico border, the home of their developmental league affiliate.
White averaged 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and five assists at Iowa State last season. He initially enrolled at Minnesota, then left the program last year and eventually transferred after pleading guilty to theft and disorderly conduct in an incident at the Mall of America.
He’s been open about his anxiety throughout his career and bluntly broke it down for reporters at his introductory press conference in Houston in June.
”Here’s how it goes,” White explained. ”I’m scared (going) to the airport, I’m scared going up, I’m uncomfortable in the air and I feel like a million bucks when we hit the runway.”
White was also absent from the Rockets’ media day on Monday. The team made the short flight to McAllen later that day, and White started tweeting about his discussions with the team on Wednesday night.
”There is nothing but very positive strides being taken right now between I and the Houston Rockets to support health,” he wrote. ”This innovative plan is being well thought out by both parties, when it’s done I think an executable plan will be there…A Healthy plan.”
White added that ”my health now is great, the best its ever been.” He said ”the long term is the goal here.”
The Rockets and White did not give a timetable for his return. Houston plays its first preseason game next Wednesday night, against Oklahoma City in McAllen.