BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Barring some conference tournament magic, it’s hard to imagine any Colorado teams making the Big Dance this year. And for the University of Colorado, it feels like a missed opportunity this year, especially with a player as great as Derrick White has been.
It’s hard to pin CU’s struggles on White, a Division II transfer who’s excelled in his only season of Division I basketball.
Not only was White voted the Buffs’ MVP at a team banquet Saturday night, he’s been one of the Pac-12’s best players all season long. Since graduating from Legend High School in Parker five years ago, the lightly-recruited White has been full of surprises.
“People probably don’t think that I’m that athletic … I read on Twitter that someone said that I wasn’t athletic,” the senior guard said. “So I might have caught people by surprise.”
It wouldn’t be the first time White surprised his skeptics. Coming out of Legend High School White had only two offers to play college basketball — neither from a Division I program.
“Everybody in RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) missed on Derrick White, much less the Division I schools,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “He was an under-the-radar guy.”
“I knew him in high school and thought he was good. He was just smaller than everyone else,” said CU junior guard Dominque Collier.
White was roughly 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds coming out of high school. But he’s has had quite a growth spurt. He’s now 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds. Almost all of that growth spurt happened during the summer before he enrolled at CU-Colorado Springs.
White put all his new-found size to good use and became a two-time Division II All American.
“I felt like I did everything I could at the Division II level,” White said. “The only thing I didn’t do there was win a national championship, so I felt like I wanted to challenge myself as a player … I needed to move up a level.”
After transferring and sitting out a year, all White has done is shine in a conference full of stars.
White is the the Pac-12’s second-leading scorer. He’s also the only player to rank in the Top 10 in scoring, assists and blocked shots.
White has held his own against players like Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, who will be some of the first players taken in the NBA draft.
“As good a player — all-around player — as I’ve ever coached; and I’ve coached some good ones … we’ve got three that we’ve coached here that are in the NBA, (Alec Burks, Spencer Dinwiddie and Andre Roberson),” Boyle said.
The question now is, how special? Can he follow in the footsteps of guys like Burks, Dinwiddie, Roberson and before them — Mr. Big Shot — Chauncey Billups?
“That’s the reason why I made my move — to showcase my talents here at the Pac-12 level and hopefully get looks from the NBA scouts and make an NBA roster,” White said.
“I’ve talked to Chauncey about Derrick and he thinks he’s a terrific player too,” Boyle said. “Derrick White is good enough to play in the NBA. There’s no question in my mind about it.”
Boyle said his only regret is not having White for one more year.