Signing Day for area colleges was on Wednesday, and it was just one year ago we were all talking about how Tubby Smith had made quite the splash for the University of Minnesota men’s basketball team.
The Gophers had four highly touted players join the team this season, but Royce White was the crown jewel.
The Twin Cities product had helped lead Hopkins to a Minnesota state boys basketball title last season. But just a year later, I’m left wondering if we’re ever going to see him suit up in the Maroon and Gold.
I saw a column in Sunday’s Strib editions regarding White, who in the last month we’ve learned has been accused of theft and assault stemming from an incident at the Mall of America. Shortly thereafter, we found out he was a suspect in an incident involving a stolen lap top at the U of M.
I want to start off by saying that Smith is the head coach of the team, so he has some responsibility here. And yes, White had some well-publicized issues prior to joining the Gophers, including getting booted from the DeLaSalle basketball team. Smith needed to do his due diligence in pursuing the athlete.
But I think it has to be noted that, even if Smith had found some real red flags while recruiting White, he still had to go for it. Had Smith decided that White wasn’t fit to attend the U of M, the media and fans would have had a field day with him. There would have been talk of how, once again, the Gophers let another premier in-state recruit get away. That no matter who’s running the operation, the Gophers – without cheating – will never become a big-time program on the national level.
Smith has said that White is no longer a part of this team until things get straightened out, and that’s all he can do. His hands from the start have been tied by those demanding that this program make a return to prominence.
It’s important that return be made the right way, but would it really have been acceptable to just completely pass on White altogether during the recruiting process?