An interesting thing happens to a college student through his/her time as a student; at least, if my experience is any indication.
You visit potential homes as a bright-eyed teenager, accepting every factoid thrown your way as gospel, and leave feeling that this is the perfect school for you. And the one you eventually decide on may very well be.
But as you approach the end of an undergraduate tenure — through all the parties, pizzas, procrastination and panic — you mature. You begin to understand you need to make decisions that will benefit you the most in the long run.
That brings us to Andrew White III.
I discussed White in this space previously, positing Syracuse as the best possible destination for his final season of college eligibility. And I still believe that’s the case. But the versatile and explosive scoring White has a litany of possibilities ahead of him: Michigan State and VCU are also vying for his services in 2016-’17.
It’s the recruiting process all over again. The difference in this instance? White’s no longer a bright-eyed teenager, as conveyed in an interview given last week to MLive.com.
“I’ve been through this enough times,” White told Brendan Quinn. “I’ve seen all the bells and whistles. What will really make or break my decision is what the basketball situation will be.”
After an abbreviated stint at Kansas, White moved onto Nebraska, where he broke out as one of the more electric scorers in the Big Ten Conference last season. With his previous transfer, White’s now on his third spin through the recruiting cycle.
If his assessment to Quinn seems cynical, it’s because he’s experienced. Think of it not as skepticism, but pragmatism.
What White’s experiencing is less of the freshman orientation pitch, and more of a senior-year career fair. This next season is his last foray on the college hardwood, and after that is an unknown.
One look at White’s game, and it seemingly translates well to the NBA. However, the same can be said of any number of elite players around the NCAA. A visit to the NBA Summer League offers a reality check of just how difficult reaching the pinnacle of basketball is.
The NBA is made up of the top fraction of a percent of college players, who are already the top fraction of a percent of all competitive hoopers around the nation — if not world. Getting to that level can require precise positioning.
White’s next move will shape the direction for his career beyond the 2016-17 season.
The good news is two of his more prominent suitors — Syracuse and Michigan State — have a long and well-established lineage of NBA alumni. The latest from Michigan State, Denzel Valentine, vacates a role that White could assume, should he land in East Lansing.
At VCU, he’ll get the opportunity to showcase the full capacity of his dynamic scoring style for a dark-horse contender.
Each option has positives, but the positives alone are a much easier sell to an 18-year-old, incoming freshman than a seasoned college vet.