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A clean slate can help Paul White and Oregon

Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire

Paul White was once a prized high school prospect. Many big-time Division I programs coveted him, but the Georgetown Hoyas landed him. Unfortunately for all involved, things didn’t work out.

White was a relative bust while playing for John Thompson III. After playing 18.4 minutes per game as a freshman and barely producing at all, his sophomore campaign was ravaged by injures. The forward managed to play a total of only 67 minutes.

That was so yesterday, though. There’s no need to throw the soap out with the bathwater. The past is in the past for a reason, and it needs to be left there.

A new tomorrow has been gifted to White. In his decision to transfer to play for the Oregon Ducks — he will have to sit out a season, mind you — a fresh start has been granted, and things can quickly turn around before anyone realizes it.

The fact he has to sit out a season might be a blessing in disguise, too. The former No. 34 player, according to ESPN’s top 100, in the 2014 recruiting class can make certain his body is right. Whether that is just allowing time to heal all wounds, or working out in different ways to prevent future injuries, there’s no rush for him to get back in playing shape.

That’s an aspect of this move that can’t be discussed enough. While we have no real idea how much he developed from a freshman to a sophomore — there’s nearly no sample size — we do know that a healthy and older White might be a really good player.

Moreover, the injuries that stunted sophomore season should not be — at least theoretically — an issue in the future.

Even better for White, Oregon coach Dana Altman has built his program partially on the foundation of landing transfers, then morphing them into impact players. It is his modus operandi. Give him another program’s figurative trash, and he will turn him into his own gold.

Circling back to White, it is hard to discuss his potential only in terms of his recruiting grade, or his numbers while at Georgetown. He has played a freshman season and barely anything more — numbers can’t adequately sum up that kind of career.

Not that high school numbers are incredibly accurate either, but White averaged 18 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals as a junior in high school. That was after a sophomore season in which he averaged 15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.

Still, the closest — though, again not even close to perfect — we might get to evaluating him is his senior year in high school. White averaged 22 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals.

Regardless, the fact remains the same. We are solely discussing White in terms of what he might be, not what he has already shown. A certain level of fairness needs to enter a discussion of how influential he can be for Oregon next season. Looking over his stats and then sighing isn’t constructive.

White is skilled. He is a jack-of-all-trades who had a fine enough freshman season with Georgetown, but had everything go to shambles thanks to lingering health issues. Now he’s trying to get beyond that with the best possible second chance he could have asked for.

He’s heading to a program with a coach known for using transfers well; he’ll be returning healthy a year from now; and there will be little to no pressure on him when he puts on an Oregon uniform.

Funnily enough, given Atlman’s track record and White’s natural gifts, he’ll probably exceed whatever newer, lower expectations are put on him now that the world has mostly forgotten how good we all thought he was once going to be.

A clean slate can help Paul White and Oregon

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