Lightning Ink NBA First Rounder

Former NBA draft pick, Royce White joins the London Lightning, December 8, 2016. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News.)

A former first round NBA draft pick will be wearing the yellow and black of the London Lightning this season.

The team announced Thursday that it has signed Royce White to a contract. The Minnesota native was the 16th overall pick in the NBA draft in 2012. He was taken by the Houston Rockets, but never played a game for the team as he and management disagreed on how to handle his anxiety and obsessive-compulsive issues.

He later made his NBA debut with Sacramento, playing in three games with the Kings. He also spent time in the Philadelphia 76’ers organization.

White says he has never given up on the game.

“I don’t think there was ever a time where I thought it was completely over. There were times when I was more committed to taking space away from basketball, to take time to better position myself for life without basketball,” he told reporters at Thursday’s announcement. “Twenty-five is a young basketball player. It seemed like a long time because of how long the story has been or the narrative around my situation.”

The 6’8″ forward is expected to have a big impact for the Lightning. He was a standout in college, having been named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and a selection for both the first team All-Big 12 and Big 12 All-Rookie teams.

“We are thrilled to have Royce in London. He is going to bolster our front court. Royce had one of the best NCAA careers in the last ten years and we are going to do everything possible to get him back into that type of shape and that type of mindset,” said Lightning head coach Kyle Julius. “We are going to use him and his skill set the same way Fred Hoiberg was able to do at Iowa State, where he was a focal point as both a perimeter player and a big man. Hopefully that will translate into wins for us and to Royce becoming a better player and playing at a higher level.”

White will make his first public appearance with the Lightning at Thursday night’s Black and Yellow game. The scrimmage is the final one of training camp.

It is scheduled for 7:30pm at St. Andre Bessette High School.