All the White moves
Charlotte sensation is the draft's fastest riser
Updated: Tuesday June 26, 2001 8:17 PM
By Travis Richmond, CNNSI.com
NEW YORK -- Rodney White is on the move.
On the eve of the NBA Draft, no player's stock has climbed as much in recent weeks as that of White, who spent one year in college at Charlotte before turning pro.
Though White was the Conference USA Freshman of the Year, he was not initially regarded as highly as many of the other early entrants in this year's draft -- most notably, Seton Hall freshman Eddie Griffin and high school seniors Eddy Curry, Kwame Brown and Tyson Chandler.
It is still unknown whom the Washington Wizards will pick No. 1 Wednesday, but team president Michael Jordan is reportedly very high on White, who has showcased his inside-outside game in individual workouts.
"I always thought that I would move up a little once I started working out for teams, but I didn't think I would skyrocket like I did," White said Tuesday. "In different workouts teams bring in different guys. In one workout I would be with 4 men [power forwards], so I would have to show my post stuff. Then, the next workout I would be with guards and I played well with them. I am able to adjust to the speed of where I am playing, and I am as good with guards as I am with big men."
If the Wizards have their hearts set on White, they may trade down rather than selecting White No. 1, adding an NBA veteran in the process.
"I want to be with the Wizards. Not because that would mean I was the top pick, but because I would have the opportunity to learn from Michael and to have him teach me the game," White said. "That would be a dream to come play for him."
Catching the eye of Jordan has reinforced to White that he is in fact ready for the NBA. At 6-foot-9, 238 pounds, White is seen as a power forward in the NBA, but in fact can play both on the perimeter and in the paint.
"I had no idea he could shoot like he can shoot," said college recruiting analyst Brick Oettinger, who did not have White among the nation's top 75 players coming out of high school. "And I give him credit -- he's a guy who really worked on his game. He's made himself a career. A guy close to 6-9 who is a wing forward can play in the NBA."
On-court flexibility is a direct result of White's nomadic basketball career. White attended five different high schools before arriving at Charlotte, but he said each move "was a step for the better."
"I never had a problem with coaches or anything. It was just because I thought each situation might be a little bit better for me," White said. "Moving helped me adjust as a person. I had to be able to adapt to new situations every time I moved to a new town and went to a new school. Basketball-wise, everywhere I went, there was a different program with different styles of coaching.
White signed with Charlotte after graduating from Newpoprt Prep in Kensington, Md., in 1999, but he failed to qualify academically. He then re-enrolled at Newport Prep to complete coursework necessary for freshman eligibility, and one year later became the top freshman scorer in the nation, averaging 18.7 points per game.
Before the beginning of his brief collegiate career, White played the D.C. Area Kenner summer league, which featured several top collegians such as North Carolina's Joseph Forte. However, it was the previously unknown White who was named the league's MVP.
"I was in the gym for day after day after day for hours and hours," White said. "I saw how I competed against those guys and I figured if I go into college and do my thing, eventually I would be a professional player."
That eventuality will become a reality Wednesday night, and White said he hopes to immediately improve his newest team.
"If they can go from 17 wins to 22 wins, I will feel like I made an impact. I just want to win -- that's more important than anything. You feel like a complete player because that is the purpose of the game," said White, adding that he hopes to not be traded. "I hope I can stay in one spot for the duration of my career, but if I don't it's just like me going to another high school. I will have to adapt."
Should that happen, at least it will be nothing new to the always-moving