Former NBA player Royce White done with basketball, training for UFC career

Ryan YoungYahoo Sports Contributor
Former NBA player and Iowa State star Royce White is done with basketball. Now, he’s working toward a career in the UFC. (AP/Chris Szagola)
Former NBA player and Iowa State star Royce White is done with basketball. Now, he’s working toward a career in the UFC. (AP/Chris Szagola)

Former NBA player and Iowa State star Royce White is done with basketball.

Instead, the 27-year-old is preparing to jump into the MMA world.

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White, who released a book this month called “MMA x NBA: A Critique of Modern Sport in America,” told ESPN that he has been training for “six or seven months.” One day, he said, he feels he can compete for the UFC’s heavyweight belt.

“I’m one of the best athletes in the world,” White told ESPN. “Among the NBA community, part of my appeal as a draft prospect was my unique size, athleticism, vision and that I probably have one of the 10 biggest set of hands in the NBA. I think all of those things will translate beautifully to the UFC.”

White won Big 12 Player of the Year honors at Iowa State and was drafted No. 16 overall by the Houston Rockets. He reportedly clashed with the organization over the management of his widely publicized general anxiety disorder, which became a battleground during his 13-month stint in the NBA. He told Yahoo Sports that in 2012, Rockets personnel told him establishing a plan to manage his anxiety was “impossible.”

White never played a game for the Rockets, and played just three games with the Sacramento Kings before he was let go. He played in the NBA Summer League, overseas and with the London Lightning in Canada’s National Basketball League ever since.

At 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, White is currently 15 pounds shy of the UFC’s heavyweight limit. While transitioning from basketball to fighting will be no easy task, White said he’s been a fan of the MMA for years. And after his array of experience in the basketball world, he said he’s well equipped for the challenge.

“I’ve always been a fan of the fight game since I was young,” White told ESPN. “I played point guard as a 265-pounder in the NCAA. In order to do so, not only do you have to have great court vision, you have to have great tempo and great footwork.

“Those things naturally translate to the fight game. I’m excited about it, but more so than anything, I’m excited about learning this thing that I’ve loved from the sidelines for so long, and applying it.”

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