Royce White Finds Trouble Yet Again

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By Mike Gallagher

Tubby Smith has, and is doing amazing things with the Gophers basketball program.  The strides he has made with this program have been huge in every aspect, with recruiting being no exception.  ESPN ranked this year’s recruiting class 10th in the nation, headlined by Trevor Mbakwe and Royce White, both big names around the Twin Cities and nationally as well.

White in particular has gotten national attention for his skills, as he was ranked 32nd in the nation among recruits coming into the year.  But while he has gotten attention for his performances on the court, White has seemingly received just as much attention for his thuggery off of it as well.

Word came down earlier this week that White was caught stealing $100 in merchandise from the Macy’s in Mall of America.  When confronted with the theft in the store by a security guard, White repeatedly pushed the guard until he forced his way out of the door.  He was later stopped by Bloomington police, and was forced to return the stolen shirt and pants.

This is not the first incident for White, who was expelled from De La Salle High School in Minneapolis last year for academic misconduct.  Specifically, White cheated on a test, which as we all know, happens all the time in high school.  But when caught and confronted by his teacher about the cheating, he probably put the last nail in his own coffin when he responded with a number of profanities directed at the teacher.

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The aforementioned Mbakwe is not without his share of issues either.  Having transferred from Miami Dade Community College in Florida to play with the Gophers, his baggage transferred with him.  He is facing felony aggravated battery charges for allegedly punching a woman in the face in April.

Joel Maturi has decided to hold Mbakwe out of games until the legal matter is resolved.  This move may end up meaning that Mbakwe may redshirt if the process spans too many of the Gophers’ games.  He has a court date set for December 14th.
Tubby Smith has made it clear he will not stand for this kind of behavior from his recruits, and responded to White’s theft charge by suspending him indefinitely.

Smith made the same move with senior guard Devron Bostick, who’s “violation of team rules” was not revealed.  When asked what indefinitely meant, Tubby’s time table was rather wide.

“It could be two games, it could be five, six,” Smith said.  “It could be more, it could be 20.  It depends on what I want, what I decide.”

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While those moves only leave the Gophers with 11 players, at this point in the year that’s ok.  Tubby is showing he has confidence in the guys he has, and if you don’t play by his rules, the program doesn’t need you.  He is exerting his authority and in some cases, that’s exactly what kids need to get things ingrained in their head.

White in particular is one of those kids.  When he got expelled from De La Salle one of the things he reportedly said to the teacher when confronted with the cheating was; ‘I’m f****** Royce White.’

As a junior in high school, that is a completely ridiculous and undeserved attitude to have.  His sense of entitlement just because he can play basketball is absurd.  He has accomplished nothing, yet he continues to act as if the world revolves completely around him.  Stealing $100 worth of merchandise from a Macy’s is such a petty thing to do, but it continues to show that he is just a kid who doesn’t know right from wrong.

The disturbing part isn’t the stealing, it’s what he did when he got caught.  Just like on the test at De La Salle.  He pretended he did nothing wrong and continued on with what he was doing because he’s ‘f****** Royce White.”  If he has the same attitude on the basketball court, if he sees it at all this year, the team chemistry will be gone, which will lead to a very disappointing season.

Mbakwe shouldn’t be as much of a worry, because the word on the kid is that he’s a very nice, personable guy, and that maybe, as he claims, the girl did mistakenly identify him as the one that hit her.

That being said, it is very unsettling to have so many off the court issues before the season even starts.  Even if Mbakwe is innocent, why was he in the position to get accused of something like that?  Why does Royce White not get the message that it’s not all about him and he needs to fit in on the basketball court, as well as in society?

Tubby Smith is doing all he can to get those messages across to these kids, because the season is exactly one week away, and White and Mbakwe were going to be heavily relied on to shore up a power forward position that has been spotty of late.
Being a top 50 recruit coming out of high school comes with responsibility and an ere of class to represent your school the right way.  Too many great basketball players have wasted their careers because of off-the-court issues and not having it where it matters most, your head.  While it is still early in White’s basketball journey, he hasn’t started out on the right path.  If he doesn’t turn things around quick, he could go from that great basketball talent conversation, to that great talent that shoulda-been conversation.

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Comments

  1. Wisconsin and Minnesota have something in common: Delinquent, yet talented recruits! Both of these guys did virtually the same thing, if not worse, as the Wisconsin freshmen. It’ll be interesting if Smith kicks them off the team too, but I doubt that would happen.

  2. i don’t understand why people keep saying that tubby is a great recruiter, then those recruits do stupid things like this…

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