By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Royce White is one talented basketball player. He’s intelligent and he suffers from mental illness that has changed the course of his life in many ways, including basketball.

He’s back this summer trying to play his was back to a paycheck, claiming he’s not that concerned if he never plays again.

It’s been a whirlwind for White.

He led Hopkins to a state title. He never played a minute for the Gophers. Troubles off the court short-circuited his career there.

At Iowa State he was reborn, leading the Cyclones to the Sweet 16 in just one season.

“My year at Iowa State there was two guys who led their team in every stat,” White said. “Draymond Green led his team in four stats and I was able to clock in a fifth stat category.”

A first round pick of the Houston Rockets, his NBA life never took off. It got complicated. At the heart of it, his battle with mental illness.

“It’s evident. I haven’t played the minutes,” he said. “I got nine total minutes in the NBA up until this point, and my skill sets and my abilities don’t equate with that.”

So now we find him at DeLaSalle High School, playing in the Pro-Am, trying to re-build his brand — but somewhat defiant that he has to prove it to anyone in the NBA.

“If I never play another minute, there’s film that lends proof to who I am as a player and I’m comfortable with that,” White said.

That’s right — it gets complicated. He’s got a nonprofit and he’s trying to lobby on behalf of the mental illness that he lives with every day.

“The conversation of mental illness, and mental health in general, is very skewed,” said White. “The thing that people have to understand about mental health is that there are a lot of definitions out there about a lot of different disorders and classifications.”

But the here and now is if he wants to play, he has to impress someone — or does he? See, White wants a basketball come back, but if he doesn’t get it, he says that’s just fine too.

“Right now for me I’m just staying focused, keeping my body in shape and preparing for whatever opportunity may come,” he said. “If no opportunity comes, I’m prepared for that as well.”

Mike Max