High-tech departure for high-profile Gopher

BY foxsports • December 18, 2009

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 YouTube video.

"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 Saturday.

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 Hall).

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.

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