Royce White Ready to Conquer Anxiety, NBA?
Still in the midst of a lengthy battle with anxiety disorder, Royce White says that he’s ready to put those issues behind him and contribute for the Houston Rockets.
Mental illness is slowly but surely becoming one of the last taboo topics in sports. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that over 26 percent of American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. It’s no coincidence that athletes around the sports world are beginning to come forward with revelations of their own battles with mental illness.
White, the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, is one such player. He has had his own issues this summer due to bouts with anxiety disorder. In fact, White missed a large chunk of training camp and several preseason games due to his anxiety attacks as a result of flying.
Our own Tommy Beer tackled the subject head on earlier this month with an honest and straightforward article defending White. Now, HOOPSWORLD caught up with White recently to get his side of the story.
The 21-year-old rookie out of Iowa State says that his issues with flying actually started in high school when he was making the rounds in the high school basketball circuit. White isn’t shy about his issues, and shared what he goes through every time he steps foot on an airplane.
“It creates a little bit of worry for me,” White told HOOPSWORLD of his experiences getting onto a plane. “I get nervous and different things like that when I know I have to fly. I deal with a little PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from having to fly before and I’ve had a bunch of panic attacks. When I first started having panic attacks was actually when I first started having to fly a lot in the circuit in high school. That just comes back up in my mind when we get ready to fly and stuff like that. But other than that, it’s just something that I just try to deal with and get through as best as possible.”
As far as the organization’s stance on the matter, the Rockets decline to comment any further on the issue, but the front office maintains that they remain committed to working with White.
“We are committed to Royce’s long term success and we will continue to support him now and going forward,” Rockets GM Daryl Morey said earlier this month via press release.
What’s been agreed upon by the two sides is a compromise that White will be able to take a bus to some games over the course of the NBA season. While White won’t be able to bus across the entire country to every road game this season, it’s likely that games in NBA cities closer to Houston are realistic possibilities.
Cities like Dallas, San Antonio, New Orleans and Oklahoma City, for instance, will be more bus-friendly trips as opposed to New York or Los Angeles. While this will certainly help, there’s little doubt that White will have to confront his anxiety issues on a regular basis this season.
“I just try to manage it as best as possible and do what I can to keep my stress down as much as possible,” White said.
Dealing with the off the court stuff is something that’s going to take time but, on the court, White’s talents are indisputable. In his only college season with the Iowa State, White finished as the only player in Division I basketball to lead his team in every major statistical category per contest. White finished the 2011-12 campaign having averaged 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5 assists, 1,2 steals and .9 blocks per game.
When the dust was settled, White had guided the Cyclones to a 23-11 record before the team fell to the eventual national champion Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament.
White followed his exceptional freshman season with a solid NBA Summer League after being drafted by the Rockets, and now the 6’8 forward just wants to fit in with Houston.
“It feels great to be back with the team,” White said, “Suiting up and getting ready to go out there and battle with my teammates.”
Upon joining the Rockets, White appears eager and ready to learn in order to do whatever it takes to contribute in Houston.
“I’m just willing to do whatever coach needs,” White said. “Whatever the coach wants me to do and whatever the team needs me to do, that’s what I’m willing to do.”
After missing the bulk of training camp and sitting out the Rockets’ first three preseason games (two by coaches decision), getting integrated into the system is going to be a work in progress. In two preseason games with the Rockets this month, the rust from missing that much time was apparent as White failed to get any kind of a rhythm going in either contest. Tack on the overabundance of forwards (eight to be exact) jumbled together in Houston’s frontcourt and it might be tough sledding heading into the season for White.
Still, on a Houston team that’s going to need help from everybody on board this season, White will likely compete for a starting spot and still has a chance to make an impact in 2012-13.