Derrick White on upcoming draft that will dictate basketball future: “I’m just going to try to enjoy the day.”

Michel CooperLast Update : Monday 19 June 2017 - 11:48 PM
Derrick White on upcoming draft that will dictate basketball future: “I’m just going to try to enjoy the day.”

Derrick White will gather with his family at their home in Parker on Thursday to watch the NBA draft. He’ll be surrounded by friends, his longtime trainer and others who have been by his side as he’s forged an improbable path from entirely overlooked prospect to professional basketball player.

One detail White doesn’t know about the party that will celebrate a life-changing night: the menu.

“That’s not on me. That’s my mom,” White said Monday following his pre-draft workout with the Nuggets, the team he grew up rooting for while idolizing Chauncey Billups.

Yes, White has nearly completed his piece of the puzzle that will dictate his basketball future. His final of roughly a dozen workouts will be Tuesday in Chicago. The 6-foot-5 guard will then return home to Parker, where he attended Legend High School before beginning his college career at Division II University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and playing his final season 90 miles north at Colorado.

From the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational in April, a showcase event for college seniors, to the NBA combine in Chicago to the countless hours on planes pointed toward cities across the country, White has spent the past two months cementing his stature as a player worth drafting. Now, he can only wait.

“It’s been a whole crazy process,” White said. “I’ve been enjoying the whole thing, but on Thursday, I don’t know how I’ll react to whatever it will be. I’m just going to sit there and try to enjoy the day.”

Essentially every draft analyst has reached the consensus that White, whose only scholarship offers out of high school came from UCCS and a junior college in Wyoming, will be one of the 60 players who hear their names called during the two rounds of Thursday’s draft. The highly regarded prospect-evaluation website has White slated as the No. 26 overall selection, heading to the Portland Trail Blazers, in its latest mock draft.

Notifications have popped up on White’s phone as he’s been tagged in social media posts about various mock drafts, his position fluctuating in each one. He hasn’t been blind to the possibility of being a first-round pick. But White’s entire journey as a basketball player has been based on the right fit, and his biggest desire for his NBA future has little to do where he’ll be selected.

“It’s more important to go to a team that wants me, a team that’s going to help me improve and that gives me a chance to play,” White said.

If the Nuggets keep their current selections in Thursday’s draft — Nos. 13, 49 and 51 overall — it would appear unlikely White, who most analysts project will fall between picks No. 25-40, would land in Denver. Still, the Nuggets have kept a close eye on him for more than a year.

“Derrick’s a heck of a story,” Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. “We followed him closely prior to getting to Boulder. He’s slippery with the ball, a guy who can play several positions. He’s just a really, really neat story, and it’s fun to see a local kid who came out of nowhere and is now on the national scene and is going to hear his name called Thursday night.”

White has leaned on people in his tight circle during the draft process. He speaks to Marcus Mason, his trainer since seventh grade, following every workout, breaking down his game step by step. He’s in constant contact with former CU forward Josh Scott, who went through numerous pre-draft workouts with teams last year and eventually played for the Nuggets’ summer league team.

But perhaps the biggest lift White has had the past two months comes from a confidence that has grown, he said, with each workout. White knows he belongs. He’s known that for years. Now, the NBA knows he belongs, too.

“He’s a great player,” former Syracuse guard Andrew White III, one of six players the Nuggets worked out Monday, said of Derrick White. “I’ve seen him one or two other times during this process. It’s been good to compete with him. I think he and I played together well. He did some really good things. I know he should be proud of himself and his state because he’s represented himself very well.”

As far as where in the league White belongs? He’ll just have to wait and see what’s on the menu Thursday night.

Source: denverpost

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Michel Cooper