Good Luck, Royce White – 'An Uncommon Man'

In one of my more fortunate experiences, I had the opporunity last summer to coach Royce White. Royce is headed to the NBA and I'm taking a moment to share my story and my appreciation for him.

The word is out — Iowa State's Royce White will be taking his incomparable skills and personality to the NBA this summer!

While ISU fans and basketball fans alike will miss him dearly around here, we are all excited and happy for the 20-year-old who was, only two short years ago, misunderstood and in search of a second chance.

Royce endeared himself quickly in the YMCA community last summer as part of our YMCA Capital City Basketball League.

Each of the six teams was comprised of two ISU and two Drake players, as well as athletes from other smaller colleges. Royce smashed eight-year records and averaged a triple double (10+ points, rebounds, assists per game). But it wasn't just his playing that won me over as his biggest fan.

His professionalism throughout the ISU season provided me with someone I could point out to the kids of our YMCA as a role model. One of Royce's main goals in life is to help people. 

Being the commissioner of league, I was fortunate enough to land Royce on my team in the draft and I enjoyed every moment of the 10-game summer league.

Royce is not only a one-of-a-kind talent, but is also the most engaging and genuine young man I've worked with in my five years coaching in the league.

I've had the opportunity to coach some great players and people such as Wes Johnson (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Harrison Barnes (North Carolina), among many others. These players were impressive people in various ways but, other than Josh Young from Drake, Royce was the first person to truly engage with the fans in the stands and individual kids who looked up to him - not just in conversations about basketball but anything.

Royce asked his new summer teammates about their schools and experiences and kept in touch with me throughout the basketball season at ISU to converse about philosophy or help me attend games. This is an uncommon man.

One of our YMCA youth basketball teams coached by Jason Swanson, an opposing Cap City League coach who also became a big Royce fan over the summer, named their fifth-grade team "The Royce White All-Stars."

Royce saw a couple of these kids after an ISU victory in Ames and went out of his way to acknowledge them with high-fives and some YMCA love. He even tried to make one of their practices but his season was getting awfully busy by that time.

I can't say enough about how much our YMCA community appreciated Royce White's generosity and approach to, not only the game, but his approach to the people around him.

His professionalism throughout the ISU season provided me with someone I could point out to the kids of our YMCA as a role model. One of Royce's main goals in life is to help people.

My hope is that the NBA city Royce lands in realizes he's more than a basketball player and that they give him the support he deserves. If you let him, he will make your community a better place. I wish Royce all the best, as does the YMCA!

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B.A. Morelli March 23, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Did you make Royce play left handed to keep things fair? Seriously, love hearing stories like this one. Thanks for sharing.
Beth Dalbey March 23, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I think I've missed out by not having met Royce, but thanks for this glimpse and tribute to the power of second chances.
Beth Dalbey March 23, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Jason, if you could instill in your sons one value that Royce exemplifies, what would it be?
Jason Swanson March 23, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Beth, you asked what I would want my boys to learn from Royce. Two things: 1. The mistakes you make in the past - big or small - don't have to define who you will become in the future. Royce took advantage of his second chance at ISU to become the man he WANTED to be, not the one many people thought he would be. 2. It takes courage to talk about your problems/issues - in this case Royce's anxiety disorder. But if you do so in a thoughtful, articulate way you can help others while you help yourself. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there.
Beth Dalbey March 24, 2012 at 10:27 AM
Jason, very well said – and good advice for all of us. Thanks.


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