High-tech departure for high-profile Gopher

Tubby Smith is old-school.

Royce White is new-age.

The Minnesota freshman said he was quitting college

basketball earlier in the week via a



“What I’m going to do next is undecided,” White

said in the video.

In this day and age of NBA and NFL players doing live chats

with fans, it was only a matter of time before something like this

went down.

While many will criticize White — and rightfully so — for

the way in which he handled this, he did have nothing but praise

for Smith and said his decision was solely because of his recent

legal troubles.

White pleaded guilty to a shoplifting charge, but denies he

was involved in a laptop theft from a dorm room.

If White does end up sticking to his word, it’ll be a

significant setback for Smith and the Gophers –  who added

one of the top recruiting classes in the country this past

offseason with White, fellow in-state freshman Rodney Williams and

athletic junior college forward Trevor Mbakwe — who also hails

from Minnesota.

The trio was supposed to elevate the program to Sweet 16 or

even Elite Eight caliber. Williams is the only one who has logged a

single minute thus far.

Now, with the future of White and Mbakwe — who is dealing

with an ongoing felony battery case — uncertain, the Gophers

remain a fringe NCAA tournament team.

CAN’T MISS: North Carolina travels to the

Lone Star State and takes on a fairly untested and unbeaten Texas

team at Cowboys Stadium Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. There will be a ton

of big bodies and length on both sides of the court, but the key

will be backcourt play. North Carolina’s Larry Drew II will

run the show for the Tar Heels while Texas has solid Dogus Balbay

and freshman J’Covan Brown at the point with Jai Lucas

(Florida) eligible to play his first game.

UNDERCARD: It’s hardly an undercard, but

Duke will face Gonzaga in Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils

are still trying to integrate freshman Mason Plumlee into the

rotation while the ‘Zags will get Matt Bouldin back after he

missed the last game due to a head injury sustained in a collision.

SURPRISES: Someone asked me the other day who the

season’s biggest surprises have been thus far. I’ll go

with Florida, Missouri State and Western Carolina. The Gators

knocked off Michigan State on a neutral court, Missouri State beat

Tulsa and remains undefeated and Western Carolina has won nine

straight — including a victory at Louisville.

STUFFED WITH COAL: The most disappointing teams

thus far: UCLA and Louisville. The young Bruins are 3-6 and have

lost to Cal State Fullerton, Portland, Long Beach State, Butler,

Mississippi State and Kansas. Even worse, every single game for the

Bruins has been either on their home floor or within miles of their

campus. Louisville always seems to struggle early, but the

Cardinals (6-3) have lost to Western Carolina and Charlotte on

their home floor and also at UNLV.

REVENGE: UCLA spanked Notre Dame at Pauley

Pavilion last year. Western Kentucky pulled an early-season upset

against Louisville and Oakland went out to Eugene and knocked off

Oregon on the Ducks home court. All three teams will have a chance

for revenge on Saturday.

REAL DEAL? Seton Hall remains undefeated, but how

much do we really know about Bobby Gonzalez’s team since they

haven’t played a BCS school yet? Sure, they’ve beaten

Ivy League favorite Cornell on the road and taken care of UMass and

VMI handily, but the Hall remains a mystery. Gonzo & Co. will

get their first true test when Temple comes into New Jersey on


UPSET SPECIAL: I’m 4-for-5 this season after

taking New Mexico last weekend to knock off Texas A&M. Well,

this week I’m going against one of the few remaining

undefeated teams in the country, Texas Tech, when the Red Raiders

head to Wichita State.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP: Creighton heads to The Pit with

a 4-5 record while New Mexico attempts to remain unbeaten. Dana

Altman and the Blue Jays let one slip away against George Mason

last week and could really use a win while the Lobos could continue

to prove they are for real if they can get past Creighton.

HELP’S ON THE WAY: UTEP has already gotten

Derrick Caracter back and the maligned big man put up 15 points and

15 boards in a loss to Ole Miss. This weekend will mark the return

of several other players for key teams: Ater Majok (UConn), Brady

Morningstar (Kansas), Jai Lucas (Texas) and Keon Lawrence (Seton


DANGEROUS: Don’t ever count out

Michigan’s John Beilein – even if the Wolverines are

struggling and are on the road against the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks.

Don’t be surprised if Beilein finds a way to make this one

competitive down to the wire.

STAYING PERFECT: There are now 11 D-I teams

without a blemish on their record. Four hail from the Big East

(Syracuse, Georgetown, Seton Hall and Georgetown), three from the

Big 12 (Kansas, Texas, Texas Tech) and there’s Kentucky,

Purdue, New Mexico and Missouri State.

STILL SEARCHING: There are eight Division I teams

still looking to get into the win column. Three of them reside in

the SWAC: Jackson State, Southern and Alcorn State. The others are

UMBC, Penn, Marist, Bryant and Colgate.