After two years filled with hype, legal issues and strange YouTube appearances, it's almost time to finally see Royce White play college basketball.
The former McDonald's All-American never panned out at Minnesota, with his career at his hometown school ending before it ever started. Now, after sitting out a year at Iowa State, it's almost time to see what all of the fuss was about.
That's not lost on the long-suffering Cyclone fans, who have seen the program struggle to remain relevant for the better part of the last decade.
In a column in Sunday's Des Moines Register, Marc Hansen recalled an interaction with a long-time Cyclone backer at a breakfast club meeting from a few days prior. That unnamed fan claimed that White, when all is said and done, will be the best player to ever don an ISU uniform. Even if it's just a sliver of the fan base thinking this much of White, it's still out there.
No pressure, kid.
Hansen laid out throughout the column several of the names White would have to outperform to earn that title, including that of current Cyclones head coach Fred Hoiberg.
But the legend is already growing. Just a week ago, White set the program record by bench-pressing 365 pounds, and was also able to put up 185 pounds a whopping 26 times. Hansen also reports that in the YMCA Capital City League this summer, he averaged a triple-double: 24 ppg, 11 apg, 11 rpg.
"I'm happy somebody would think of me in that way," White said. "And it gives me motivation to try to achieve that on the court and off. It's an objective term and probably a little extreme, considering all the great players who've been here, but I'd like to be on the list someday. I think it's achievable. Not for what I do individually as much as for what we do as a team. Hopefully, I can make a dent in Iowa State history that way."
Based on those comments, White sounds like a young man somewhat humbled by what's been nothing short of a strange trip since he graduated high school in 2009.
But fitting in with his new team should be no problem.
At 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, White will have plenty of chances to make an impact on the box score for a team that lost three of its top four scorers from a year ago. He'll also largely be judged, though, by what the Cyclones' win-loss record looks like. Despite playing several top teams in the Big 12 close last season, they went just 3-13 in the league and 16-16 overall.
Expectations are high, too, for reasons beyond just White, who will be a redshirt sophomore. Also eligible this season are transfers Chris Allen (Michigan State), Chris Babb (Penn State) and Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois).
The team kicks off an 11-day basketball tour through Italy this week, and expect the buzz around White and the Cyclones to only continue to grow until the season rolls around.