Thursday, September 20, 2012

D.J. White Seeking NBA Satisfaction

So what do you do if you’re D.J. White, you’re coming off the best season of your career and you remain an unsigned free agent with NBA camps set to open in a few weeks?

You visit teams, work out and hope that somebody gives you a chance.

If not, well, there’s always the overseas option for the former Indiana standout.

“Hopefully I’ll know my future in a couple of weeks,” he says. “I have a couple of options. Basically, I want to be in a position to succeed. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out soon.”

White, a 6-9, 235-pound forward/center, has played four NBA seasons with a career average of 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds. Last season, for Charlotte, he played a career-high 58 games and set career highs for scoring (6.8 points) and rebounding (3.6).

That’s the good news. The bad news was he played for a team that only won eight games and set a NBA record for futility. His contract expired after the season and he wasn’t resigned.

“It was tough,” he says. “All I could do was control my attitude and my effort. I got to play a lot, more than I had in my previous years.”

He paused.

“We didn’t have the best of years,” he says with a laugh. He can laugh about it now, although it wasn’t funny going through it.

“I don’t wish that on anybody. It was a learning experience. What can you do? You just continue to do the best you can every day.”

White was a first-round pick in 2008, taken No. 29 by the Detroit Pistons, but quickly traded to the Seattle Supersonics (which is now the Oklahoma City Thunder).

His rookie season was delayed because of jaw surgery that sidelined him for five months. He started with the NBA’s D-League and the Tulsa 66ers before returning to Oklahoma City. He played in seven games and averaged 8.9 points and 4.6 rebounds.

He was a reserve for two more years with Oklahoma City before playing the next two seasons with Charlotte.

“I’ve had an OK career,” he says. “There are still some things I want to accomplish. I’m far from being satisfied. I’ve had some ups and downs, but that’s part of life. I’ll get through it.”

White played at IU from 2004 to 2008 and was coached by Mike Davis and Kelvin Sampson. He led the team in blocks three times (six times he blocked as many as five shots in a game) and ranks third all-time with 198. Jeff Newton is first with 227. Alan Henderson is next with 213.

White is 10th in school history with 748 rebounds. He is 16th with 1,447 career points. As a senior he averaged 17.4 points and 10.3 rebounds, but that was Sampson’s last season, when NCAA violations ruined what had been a strong start and led to sanctions that rocked the program. Current coach Tom Crean finally got the program back to elite status last season.

What did he learn from his IU experience?

“Just no matter what circumstances you’re in, keep going and you can overcome them. I went through two coaching changes. It wasn’t in my control. All I could control was my attitude and effort. That’s what I’ve taken into what I do now.”

IU’s preseason No. 1 ranking and national championship contention status leaves White impressed.

“I’m happy for them,” he says. “When I left a lot of different things happened, but Coach Crean and his staff did a good job of recruiting. Christan (Watford) and those guys were put in a tough situation, but they stuck it out. Look at them now. They made it to the Sweet 16 last year and are preseason No. 1. Hopefully they can build on that success for next year.”

White, who lives in Indianapolis during the off-season, tries to make it back to IU whenever his schedule allows. He was part of last month’s Pro Camp at IU. His former Indiana teammate and current NBA player, Eric Gordon, also returns as often as possible.

“The program was good to us, so why not give back?” he says. “We both live in Indy in the off-season. We both work out together. We try to come down as much as we can.”

1 comment:

  1. A couple years ago I was coming out of the restroom at DFW airport, and walking past was D.J. I blurted out "D.J. White." I expected him to wave and keep going, as he was talking on his cell phone, but he ended his conversation it to talk to me for a few minutes and pose for a picture. What a class act. I hope he gets another shot in the NBA.