By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
AMES — Royce White is going pro.
Iowa State’s star sophomore made his big announcement on Tuesday afternoon in front of a packed crowd at the Jacobson Building in Ames.
Shortly after the press conference, CycloneFanatic.com sat down with White for this exclusive one-on-one interview that you won’t read anywhere else.
Below, White opens up about his thoughts on next year’s Iowa State team, his immediate future, his passion for the Cyclone Nation and so much more. Enjoy.
CF: Royce you’re one of the most popular athletes I’ve ever seen during my time covering Iowa State. To the ones who think the sky is falling because you’re going pro, what perspective do you have on how next year’s team will do without you?
RW: I would tell them what I tell a lot of people who are in my close circle when it comes to every day life things. It’s bigger than me. As far as me not coming back, it’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than us as Iowa State and Ames. As tough as that is to deal with, you have to be selfless. It’s bigger than us. As far as the team goes, they are going to be better. That’s the bottom line. When you add Korie Lucious and Will Clyburn, Royce White doesn’t equal that. When you add a Georges (Niang) and now I’m really not in the running for as much as I can contribute compared to what they can. Team wise, it’s no problem.
As far as me leaving and the community, I love these fans and the confidence that they instilled in me this year allowed me to become a better man. For that reason, even though I’m leaving Ames physically, I’m taking it with me in spirit and all of the things I’ve learned here with the experiences that I’ve had I take by word. That’s what I try and repeat in a place like the Twin Cities. It’s a lot bigger.
CF: After hearing everything today, is it safe to assume that you’ll be the biggest Cyclone fan wherever you end up and not be a stranger to the program?
RW: Oh definitely. Coach Hoiberg is more than a coach. He is a friend. I am his biggest fan, just like he is a fan of mine. I am probably his biggest fan because every time he steps out on that court at the games, I am clapping during warm-ups. It’s just that respect level. I don’t want to see anything but the best for him. I don’t have to worry too much because he is a hard worker. His era is just beginning as a coach. The sky is the limit for what he can do.
CF: You gave Korie and Will some pretty rave reviews. What makes them so good?
RW: I practiced with them all year long so I know what they can do. Korie is probably one of the toughest guys I have ever seen to guard. That’s no lie. In person, I have never seen somebody so tough to guard. He is so low to the ground and he is so shifty. He’s so creative and he shoots so well so you have to respect that. He uses a lot of up-fakes but he keeps his dribble alive. You never know if he is going to pull up quick or dribble right by you. He’s just dangerous that way and you will see that next year. Coach is an NBA guys so I’m sure they will be running a lot of ball-screen stuff to exploit that.
Will is an all around player just like I am. He rebounds. He shoots it way better than me. He’s a big time athlete and a great defender. I can’t add up to what they can do. They bring such a new element and when Cyclone basketball sees what they have next year, they will understand why it wasn’t hard for me to leave the team where it is at. They are in great hands.
CF: What would you say that you are looking forward to the most about this next step in your life?
RW: To be honest, I am looking forward to the fact that now I can start my life. I don’t say this as a discredit to the NCAA because it’s not but the way that it is set up now, being an athlete kind of holds you up from starting your real life. It kind of enables us as athletes to not grow up quick. I just want to be one of those guys who grows up quick. I want to get to my life and I don’t want to be around 22 and 23 and still haven’t started to move yet or move forward with my goals. For some kids that is okay. A lot of kids don’t know what they want to do at 20 or 21. For me, that’s just not the case. I’m looking forward to getting my life started with my businesses, philanthropy and being a spokesperson for some things. As far as basketball goes, I am not looking forward to it because I am insecure about you know, where I am but that is just reality of it. But I have courage and whatever happens in that realm is not what’s most important.
CF: One of the things that fascinates people about you is that you’re a basketball player but so much more with the music and everything else. What are some of those specific goals you have going forward?
RW: Now that I have my agent, over the last couple of days we’ve been finishing up a deal with a production company that is going to do a documentary. They did the one on Chris Herren, Hawk films if you have ever seen them. They are excited about the documentary. It’s called “An Anxious Mind.” It really touches on anxiety and not only anxiety but mental illness, the parts of the brain that it works on and how it affects everyday life. It’s easy to show something in animation and science but to take somebody’s story and break down how each thing was actually affected by it is entirely different and way more helpful. With the troops coming home, there are some ideas about how some of the things that I have learned from my psychiatrist, he taught troops who came home from Iraq and were suffering from PTSD because it is the same part of the brain. The package is something like that for the documentary. If it goes to DVD or we’re shooting for theaters. You know I always want to shoot high. In the music industry, I don’t just want to make music. I want to win a Grammy. That’s just how I am. Things like that. The documentary is probably number one of importance right now just because I think it is really important to get my foot in the door on helping people with mental illnesses. It is a long time overdue that we get the awareness out.
CF: The other night you were on Twitter. I couldn’t keep track of how many re-tweets you sent out.
RW: As many as I could.
CF: What was that all about? Was that you giving back to the fans?
RW: It was a thing that just kind of started to happen. I read my Twitter feed every night. There was one person who said to re-tweet. I re-tweeted him and another person probably saw that. He asked for one and it felt wrong to not give one to everybody. To be honest and I am probably a epic guy or a story guy or an embellisher, but every single Cyclone fan had something to do with the success that we had and I had. I felt like there wasn’t one that I could miss. It was funny because my I’Phone couldn’t work as fast as my computer. I would go to the bathroom and be trying to check it but it wouldn’t load fast enough so was missing like 20 or 30 people who were trying to get re-tweets. I was like I’m going to stay here all night until I get everybody so if you didn’t get re-tweeted, keep sending because I just didn’t see it yet. Then, eventually Twitter said: ‘You know what…Our tech support isn’t built for this. You’re not going to be tweeting all night.’
CF: They shut you down?
RW: They shut me down. They told me that I wasn’t allowed to send any other tweets that night. I actually went to one of the last person I re-tweeted, sent them a direct message and tried to tell him to tweet everybody because not only could I not re-tweet anybody, it wouldn’t even let me tell everybody that I had to stop re-tweeting. That worked out. The next day I was able to address it.
But I felt like it was something that we could have fun with. I think that Cyclone Nation was trending. It was something that we had fun with and I love the fans. It hurts to an extent that I have to leave and the fans are disappointed in that way but hopefully I can make an impact on the world so that they will be proud again one day.
CF: One of the guys who you are closest to is Matt Abdelmassih. He’s not always out front and being seen but I was curious as to what he’s meant to you over the last two years?
RW: He did what all assistant coaches do around the country. He really kept the seams together. There were times where I really just needed him just in a conversation way. He played as a great middleman to coach. Sometimes there were things that I didn’t want to say to coach directly. I could go to him and he could facilitate me and coach talking. All of those little things that make a program run, he and all of the assistants did a great job with that this year. That’s what’s great about having a team of assistants like that. It’s like having a CEO and the president. They smooth everything out. Our relationship is so close because he is the one who recruited me here.
CF: Last but not least…In regards to little Royce. Is he a baller? Is he a future musician? What’s he like?
RW: It’s tough to say. He has a xylophone that grandma got him for his first birthday. He can’t stop beating that then. Then his other grandma got him one of these Tonka pianos…I forget what the brand is. What’s another popular toy brand?
CF: I have no clue. I have dog, no kids Royce.
RW: One of those…It’s this little piano. He likes to surround himself with all of the instruments and play them at once. But then when he’s done doing that he won’t put his ball down. He dunks it and he shoots it and he’s only one. It’s kind of freaky and scary sometimes but I guess I couldn’t ask for anything better.
CF: If he’s ever a D-1 basketball prospect, where will he go to school?
RW: I’d have to recommend Iowa State. This is my alma-mater even though I had the stint at Minnesota. I’m a fan of them as well but this is my alma-mater and this place gave me my life back so I would probably if not force him to go, give a pretty strong recommendation and the way that he is now, I think he’d probably listen.