Back in June, we spent 24 hours with Royce White on the day of the NBA draft, which doubled as the biggest day of his life. For us, Royce (a 6-foot-8 forward from Iowa State) was the most suspenseful and important story in the draft — someone blessed with an extraordinary combination of skills and size, and also with a refreshing openness about his mental condition. His doctors call it "generalized anxiety disorder," a condition defined as "constant worry." In Royce's case, it's compounded by a fear of flying, which led to him electing to make the 10-hour drive from Ames, Iowa, to Louisville, Kentucky, for last year's NCAA tournament (instead of flying with his team). Rather than hide his condition from the public and NBA decision-makers, Royce made a commitment to millions of young people who suffer their anxiety in shame and silence (as he had done as a child and a teen). He would be their champion. Royce and the staff at Iowa State, led by head coach Fred Hoiberg, knew he could thrive professionally. But they also knew Royce had scared off a few NBA executives with his admirable honesty.
By the time Draft Day rolled around, Royce was the single hardest potential 2012 first-rounder to project. The real question was whether there was anyone in the NBA who wasn't too afraid of Royce to let him in the game