Before Iowa State signed Minnesota transfer Royce White last spring, athletic director Jamie Pollard approached first-year coach Fred Hoiberg with a question.
“Are you really sure this is what you want to bite off in your first go through?” Pollard said.
Hoiberg, though, had heard and seen enough from White to believe in the troubled star. This fall, he’ll find out if the risk was worth it when White finally suits up for Iowa State after sitting out the 2010-11 season under NCAA transfer rules.
The 6-foot-8 White is among a handful of transfers who will take the court for the Cyclones next season, as guards Chris Allen (Michigan State) and Chris Babb (Penn State) and forward Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois) are also set to see action.
No player, though, has created as much buzz as White, who was named Mr. Basketball in Minnesota after leading Hopkins High school to the Class 4A state championship. He was the 19th-ranked player in the Class of 2009 by Rivals.com.
White pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and disorderly conduct after an altercation at a shopping mall during his first semester at Minnesota. Soon after, he pleaded guilty to trespassing following an investigation into the theft of a computer from a dorm room.
After being suspended indefinitely by Gophers coach Tubby Smith, White left the program. He never appeared in a game. White will be two-and-a-half years removed from his last high school game when he finally takes the court for Iowa State this fall.
Here’s a list of some other transfers who will be depended on heavily next season.
Chris Allen, Michigan State to Iowa State – A violation of team rules got Allen booted from Michigan State’s squad last summer. But as long as he exhibits maturity, he should give the Cyclones a boost. Allen has played in two Final Fours and an NCAA title game. He averaged 8.8 points in 25.5 minutes as a junior in 2009-10, when he shot a team-high 39.8 percent from 3-point range.
Carlon Brown, Utah to Colorado – Brown averaged a team-high 12.6 points for Utah in 2009-10. He entered his name in the NBA draft but withdrew when it became obvious he wouldn’t be selected in the first round. With Cory Higgins graduating and Alec Burks headed to the pros, Brown, a guard, may be the best player in the Buffaloes’ program.
Aaron Fuller, Iowa to USC – Fuller earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2009-10 after averaging a team-high 12.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in conference play. The 6-6, 235-pounder will provide some much-needed bulk down low following the departures of Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic.
Brady Heslip, Boston College to Baylor – The Canadian didn’t join Boston College’s team until December of 2009 and never saw the court for the Eagles before transferring. The Bears would’ve been a completely different team last season if Heslip would’ve been eligible. He’ll give them the one thing they sorely lack: A heady, gutsy floor leader who will bring structure and discipline to an ultra-talented team.
Mike Moser, UCLA to UNLV – Reports out of Las Vegas during the season were that Moser was often the best player on the court during the Runnin’ Rebels’ practices. He was the 92nd-ranked recruit in the Class of 2009 by Rivals.com but was hardly used as a freshman at UCLA, where he averaged just 0.6 points and 0.5 rebounds two seasons ago.
Arnett Moultrie, UTEP to Mississippi State – The 6-11 Moultrie averaged 9.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in two seasons at UTEP. No one is mentioning Mississippi State as a potential Top 25 team, but if Moultrie performs in games as well as he has in practice, the Bulldogs could be one of the teams to beat in the SEC. Moultrie and Renardo Sidney could form one of the nation’s top frontcourts.
Mike Rosario, Rutgers to Florida – Rosario averaged 16.2 points as a freshman and 16.7 points as a sophomore at Rutgers, where he played for former Scarlet Knights coach Fred Hill. Rosario will have to be a more disciplined player at Florida, but if he buys in, the results could be phenomenal, as Rosario has been regarded as a future pro.
Tristan Spurlock, Virginia to Central Florida – Spurlock was in a tough situation during his only year at Virginia because he was playing for a coach (Tony Bennett) who didn’t recruit him. The Cavaliers were short on big men, so Spurlock – a small forward – was forced to play in the paint. He’ll excel in Donnie Jones’ up-tempo attack.
Xavier Thames, Washington State to San Diego State – Thames appeared in all 31 of Washington State’s games as a freshman in 2009-10, when he averaged 4.6 points and 1.2 assists. San Diego State had recruited the Sacramento native out of high school, so coach Steve Fisher is familiar with his game. The Aztecs lost senior guard D.J. Gay to graduation.
Elston Turner, Washington to Texas A&M – Turner averaged 5.5 points as a sophomore at Washington, where he had been tagged as the Huskies’ 3-point specialist. At Texas A&M, Turner is hoping to prove he’s more than just a spot-up shooter. With point guard B.J. Holmes graduating, Turner should get an immediate chance to show his versatility.
David and Travis Wear, North Carolina to UCLA – The 6-10 brothers combined to average 6.4 points and 3.9 points for North Carolina in 2009-10. Their decision to transfer last May came as a complete surprise to Tar Heels coach Roy Williams – but it was a huge bonus for UCLA, which should be stacked in the paint with Reeves Nelson, Josh Smith and the highly skilled, versatile Wears.
Royce White, Minnesota to Iowa State – A pair of legal issues kept White from ever seeing the court at Minnesota, where he had been the most high-profile recruit of the Tubby Smith era. The 6-8 White is getting a second chance with the Cyclones, and all reports are that he’s fitting in great. White will be counted on heavily down low, where Iowa State is short on post players.