As a teary Royce White exited the locker room at the Sukup Basketball Complex, he met a crowd of cheering family and friends congratulating him on being selected by the Houston Rockets as the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
White said he was having a one hour and 45 minute panic attack prior to his name being called and that his anticipation was similar to right before the wheels of an airplane touch down on the ground. He said the emotions of trying to become an NBA player swelled in gratitude for all of those who had helped him along the way, including his ISU men's basketball coach Fred Hoiberg.
With White's draft into the NBA, Hoiberg saw a decision he made two years ago to bring White into the ISU program come full circle and that White "is one of those popular players in a short amount of time that he was here in the history of Iowa State basketball."
Hoiberg also said he is so happy for White to be selected by the Rockets because he believes Rockets coach Kevin McHale will be a great person for White to interact with on and off the court.
"There's just not many people [White's] size that can do what he does and have his skill set, and one guy I knew would love him was [McHale]," Hoiberg said. "He loves basketball players, guys that can make plays."
White's unique unselfishness translates beyond the basketball court, however, and into his life. White said, for all of the personal attention he has gained by being drafted into the NBA, he is not the one that is worthy of all the credit.
"To be honest, the glory is not mine tonight," White said. "The glory is this community's, the community that I come from in Minnesota, and the mental illness community. Over the last two years they have motivated and inspired me and they put me here basically. Tonight is glory for them and not so much as me."
White's former teammate and ISU senior guard Chris Babb said there is no better feeling than seeing one of his closest friends be put in this position to live out his dream.
"It's definitely a motivational thing for me to see where his work has gotten him," Babb said, in regard to furthering his own basketball career after leaving Iowa State.
Babb also said White achieving success in his time at Iowa State and being drafted in the first round of the NBA can be a motivational tool for the 2012-13 ISU men's basketball team.
"We've got four or five seniors, and it's going to be our last go-around," Babb said. "That's our motivation, to have a great season. Guys who make it to the NBA often times have a lot of exposure because they win. That's what a lot of teams look for, teams that win. We've had great focus so far this off season — the freshmen have come in and are working hard as well as the returning guys. We're just looking forward to our turn."
Former ISU forward Craig Brackins said seeing White drafted in the first round brought back a lot of memories of his own draft night. Brackins said he had chills go through his body watching White's name be called.
"I told him congratulations and asked him how he feels, just trying to ease him up a bit," Brackins said. "I know that emotion. He came up to me and was like 'I feel like I'm going to cry. I have to get out of here.' I told him to just hold it in and live in the moment — it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing."