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Hockumentary: Draft Day With Royce White

Back in June, we spent 24 hours with Royce White on the day of the NBA draft, which doubled as the biggest day of his life. For us, Royce (a 6-foot-8 forward from Iowa State) was the most suspenseful and important story in the draft — someone blessed with an extraordinary combination of skills and size, and also with a refreshing openness about his mental condition. His doctors call it “generalized anxiety disorder,” a condition defined as “constant worry.” In Royce’s case, it’s compounded by a fear of flying, which led to him electing to make the 10-hour drive from Ames, Iowa, to Louisville, Kentucky, for last year’s NCAA tournament (instead of flying with his team). Rather than hide his condition from the public and NBA decision-makers, Royce made a commitment to millions of young people who suffer their anxiety in shame and silence (as he had done as a child and a teen). He would be their champion. Royce and the staff at Iowa State, led by head coach Fred Hoiberg, knew he could thrive professionally. But they also knew Royce had scared off a few NBA executives with his admirable honesty.

By the time Draft Day rolled around, Royce was the single hardest potential 2012 first-rounder to project. The real question was whether there was anyone in the NBA who wasn’t too afraid of Royce to let him in the game …