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Is Royce White Worth the Gamble?

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After some contemplation and looking back at our archives, I have determined that this may very well have been the slowest week ever for UK news since we began the site nearly five years ago. In years past, we have had coaching changes, recruits coming and going and general chaos in the summer, all of which have made certain that there were things to talk about through the slow months of June and July. But this year, there is less of that and with the stability in UK recruiting, not much is happening. This week in fact, the only real story is the increased interest between Kentucky and Royce White. At this point you probably know what Royce White brings to the table. He is 6’8″, somewhere between 225 and 250, a PF that can shoot a bit from the outside and a good scorer around the basket. He was a high school All-American and has NBA potential. You also probably know the baggage…academic fraud issue early in high school, shoplifting incident when he arrived at Minnesota, suspect in another incident (no charges brought), quits college basketball via YouTube and generally makes strange decisions while away from the game. So considering all the factors, is Royce White worth the risk.

On the surface, it isnt clear that Kentucky truly needs Royce White in the lineup. With the commitment of Terrence Jones, Kentucky now has two future NBA first round picks at the 4 and the 5, a former high school top 50 player backing up one position and Josh Harrellson at the other. Royce White might see playing time, but it is not like the Cats are crying out a need at his position. In the next season’s class, Kentucky already has Michael Gilchrist committed, Quincy Miller considering and a couple of other big guys on the radar, all of which could service Calipari’s 3-4-5 needs. Thus it isnt like the roster is where it was when Calipari arrived and a talent risk was worth the risk because of need. The need is not what it was and it isnt clear where White would immediately fit in.

That isnt to say there wouldnt be an upside to having White on the team. You can never have too much talent and as last year showed us with Daniel Orton, Calipari can get guys to the league, even if they arent playing much during the season. But the reality is that if White comes, the PR hit will be large and Calipari will take major criticism from the usual suspects. I get the feeling he doesnt particularly care about that, but it is a reality that follows the program. That stuff isnt the end of the world, but it causes unneeded stress and can be a distracting factor that a team has to deal with. And then there is the question of White himself. Has he grown up, matured and reached a point that we wont have Youtube videos during the season that make us all shake our head? Calipari will know the answer to that question better than any of us, so on that it makes sense to defer to his judgment. But one does wonder, what is the upside that would make the risk worth it.

Ultimately, I think the decision has been made that Kentucky will pursue White and he may end up here. Other schools such as Iowa State and Baylor are supposedly also talking with White, but most think UK is the leader. And if he arrives in Lexington, fans will surely give him the second chance he may deserve and hopefully all will work out. But there is no denying that a risk is involved. And at this point, with the unprecedented way in which Calipari has turned the UK program around and put it in the position of having the #1 most attractive roster in the country for recruiting, is that risk worth the potential rewards. From my perspective, it seems unneeded. But then again, that may be why I blog and he is the hottest coach in college basketball.

Article written by Matt Jones