Spurs select Colorado guard Derrick White with pick No. 29

Michel CooperLast Update : Friday 23 June 2017 - 5:21 AM
Spurs select Colorado guard Derrick White with pick No. 29

PARKER — The whole room erupted, but Derrick White remained calm answering the call. White dreamed of this moment, he had three dreams about it Wednesday night, but the dream became reality Thursday night when the San Antonio Spurs selected him 29th overall in the NBA draft.

“It’s crazy, man. It’s crazy,” said White, who launched onto the draft scene after a successful “one and done” senior year at the University of Colorado. “I’m just a kid from Parker. It’s more than I ever imagined.”

Sitting in the basement media room of a family friend’s home in Parker, White was ambushed with hugs, kisses and bro handshakes from a collection of people who meant the most to him — from family to friends to former coaches and his longtime trainer, Marcus Mason.

Five years ago, a coach from NCAA Division II New Mexico Highlands concluded White couldn’t play for his team. Metro State and nearly every Division I and II program passed too. Thursday, White proved them all wrong as he became the first senior drafted and the crown of the Spurs’ draft class.

CU coach Tad Boyle called it. “He’s going here, watch, he’s going here,” Boyle said moments before the selection. Boyle talked to Spurs general manager R.C. Buford shortly after the pick, thanking him. Then he handed the phone to White.

Rocking a navy blue suit with “dare to be great” emboldened on the bottom of his left pant leg, White began to soak in the start of his NBA journey a little after 9 p.m. Thursday night.

“Dare to be great” is a slogan created by his dad, Rich, more than 15 years ago and it’s become the staple of White’s draft thought process.

“It’s take your shot to be the best you can be. Don’t worry about, ‘Hey, I might fail,’ dare to be great,” Rich said. “Aim high. Go for it. Have full confidence. Last night, he said that’s what it means: to be ultimately confident in what I can do. And if I’m confident then good things are going to happen.”

White didn’t lack for confidence Thursday night. He wasn’t nervous, or he hid it well, joking and taking pictures, acting like the party with 50-plus guests wasn’t for him. That’s who White is, his closest friends say, “a guy’s guy” who can be incredibly humble no matter the circumstances.

“You would never think the person you meet off the floor is the person you see on the floor,” said White, who played with White at Division II CU-Colorado Springs his first three years. “For me, he’s always had a switch.”

Childhood friends, Cory Calvert and Reece Elliott, interrupted simultaneously: “Nothing’s changed. He still has the same smile, still talks trash. He doesn’t even know how good he is.”

White and his quartet of best friends – Welsh, Calvert, Elliott and his former CU roommate Josh Repine – took the light rail from the Rockies game Thursday afternoon to the draft party. He signed autographs and took pictures for everyone that asked.

His story, of course, is different than most of Thursday night’s other draft picks. No one knew – from White’s parents to best friends – that White’s NBA dream was realistic until a year or two into his college career.

Mason kept seeing White hold his own in workouts against players from top-tier Division I programs. Former Nuggets star Chauncey Billups, who White idolized growing up, told Mason that White had an NBA chance if the skinny guard could better his body.

White accepted the challenge, hitting the weight room like an animal. He transformed from a 6-foot, 150 pound stick of a guard in high school to the 6-5, 200 pound NBA player he is today.

“He’s tasted the worst, he’s paid his dues and now he’s getting exactly what he deserves,” Calvert said. “It couldn’t have happened to a better person.”

Source: denverpost

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2017-06-23 2017-06-23
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Michel Cooper