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Monday, May 20
The Indiana Daily Student

White may not sparkle, but he’ll shine

In an IU season marked by forgettable personalities, D.J. White stood out as a man.\nHe made the calculated decision to return for his senior season, hoping a promising recruiting class led by Eric Gordon would make the Hoosiers contenders. With questions surrounding his health and ability, White hoped to restore the old image from his McDonald’s All-American days and re-establish himself as an NBA Lottery pick. \nDefenses came after him every night, but the man amongst boys (his teammates) dominated the boards and the opposition nightly. Despite the distractions surrounding the program, IU’s “main attraction” never let up.\nThere were no three-game suspensions for No. 3. No nights taken off for Tuscaloosa’s finest. During the last three games of the season, when the entire basketball team essentially quit on interim coach Dan Dakich, White busted his you-know-what, averaging 21.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.\nBut odds are the Big Ten Player of the Year will not be selected in the first round of this Thursday’s NBA Draft. Unfortunately for White, he is a known commodity, which is as sexy to NBA general managers as Illinois coach Bruce Weber is to the opposite sex.\nWhite is a good scorer (17.4 ppg) and a tenacious rebounder (10.3 rpg) in an undersized body. Although 6-foot-9, 251 pounds equates to Hulk-status in the Big Ten, it is rarely viewed as ideal by NBA scouts and other powers-that-be.\nNo, White doesn’t have the high ceiling of LSU’s Anthony Randolph or the athleticism of Texas A & M’s DeAndre Jordan. He doesn’t have the lure of the Lopez twins or the bag of tricks that UCLA’s Kevin Love owns.\nWhat White has is production. His wingspan and ability to get up quickly make up for the literal inch or two too short he is of making Jay Bilas salivate. He’s a better shooter than most big men his size and, most importantly, he cares. He’s loyal. He’s the type of player you can root for. And given the right opportunity, he could be a solid rotation player in the NBA.\nHe’s not going to be a star, but he’s someone who can contribute. \nIn 2006, a player in the mold of White made a similar transition into the NBA. Despite leading the NCAA in rebounding three straight seasons, Louisiana Tech’s Paul Millsap didn’t receive much consideration on draft day. At 6-foot-8 258 pounds, Millsap was seen as too short to translate to the next level. Despite averaging 19.6 points and 13.3 rebounds per game his junior season, Millsap wasn’t selected until the second round when the Utah Jazz stole him with the 47th overall pick.\nYou see, Millsap didn’t have the high ceiling of Bradley’s Patrick O’Bryant (ninth overall) or the athleticism of Senegal’s Saer Sene (10th). Heck, he didn’t have the lure of Connecticut’s Josh Boone (23rd), let alone the low-post moves of the United Kingdom’s Joel Freeland (30th) ... wait, why did they take Joel Freeland?\nDo you see where I’m going with this?\nWhile most of the above-mentioned players are busts, awful or still overseas (most likely forever), Millsap has emerged as one of the top bench players in the league. In his first two seasons with the Jazz, Millsap appeared in every single game while averaging 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in under 20 minutes a night. Looking back on the 2006 Draft, Millsap would easily be a top-10 pick.\nWhite and Millsap aren’t exactly tomato and tomato (doesn’t really work in print, does it?), Millsap is a slightly better rebounder and is more athletic, while White has more shooting range and is able to play with his face to the basket. But the two have similarities that shouldn’t be overlooked.\nEspecially if you happen to have a first-round pick Thursday.

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