ROYCE WHITE: Gamble Pays Off For Both Sides

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He’s taking an arsenal of skills to the NBA, but he’ll also be leaving a few things behind…

“What he did against Kansas State," recalls Des Moines Register beat writer, Randy Peterson, "1.8 seconds to go...baseline jumper...five feet...swish! Iowa State wins.”

A season of highlights that will likely linger for decades…

“What Royce White did to start the Connecticut game against the defending national champions—went end to end, DUNK!  I’ll never forget that shot,” Peterson adds.

The Cyclones got a star to shoot them back into the NCAA Tournament…but it’s the star who claims he got even more from the bargain.

“My life was not in a great place when I first arrived here, two years ago,” White remembers.

He was troubled kid--humiliated in his hometown.  And today he looked back.

“There’s no way to express everything this community has done for me, Ames gave me my life back.”

“Being an Iowan myself," said Chris Williams, moderator of the Cyclone Fanatic fan site, "that really kind of hit close to home because it makes you wonder if he goes somewhere else, anywhere else in the country, does he turn his life around and become the success story that he has been?”

Fred Hoiberg had no experience as a coach, let alone one who could rehabilitate fallen stars, but it worked.

“I think what you do is you sit them down and ask them what their goals are," he said, "and then you draw up the plan to say ‘okay, this is what you need to do to achieve those goals.’ And Royce did all those things.”

“He definitely instilled in me that it was a clean slate and I had a second chance, now," White added, "and to make the best of it and that gave me a personal responsibility to him to not make him look bad, also, and I think that that’s the case with all the transfers.”

And it worked—even if only for a short time.

“Royce White came here with baggage, said Peterson, "and baggage that he had to overcome and he overcame. People accepted him here and he really appreciated that. If he goes on to make lots of money, trust me, he’ll put some of it back in this community one way or the other.”

Even on the court, the experiment could pay more dividends for Iowa State.

“There are guys out there now, high school guys out there now saying ‘I want to be the next Royce White.’ So he was an infomercial for Iowa State,” Peterson said.

So it’s an era that’s now over.  But it left a lasting impression on all. Fans, team, coach, player.

“Whoever makes the plans for life knew that this was the best place for me to grow,” White said.