Spending a season on the sideline is never ideal for any basketball player, but in Derrick White's case it at least shed any nagging doubts that could have lingered after his life-altering decision.

White can compete in the Pac-12 Conference, and he's more than ready to show what he can do at the Division I level.

From the moment he opted to ply his skills for one last season at college basketball's highest level with the Colorado Buffaloes, the versatile White has been lauded by head coach Tad Boyle as someone who will be a key component to the 2016-17 team.

White's time nearly is at hand. The former Division II All-American at UCCS spent his transfer year going toe-to-toe every day at practice against the starters from a CU team that matched a program record with 21 regular-season wins and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons.

The daily battles only reaffirmed to White he made the right decision.

"I've learned a little of what works and what doesn't work," White said of his year as a practice player. "Some of the stuff that worked when I was at UCCS doesn't work up here. It helped my confidence because I know I can play at the Pac-12 level now. I've been playing against these guys for a year now and we were fifth in the Pac-12. I was sitting in the front row too, so I think that year really helped me."

A classic late-bloomer out of Legend High School in Parker, White left UCCS as the program's all-time leader in points and assists despite playing just three seasons. With a rewrite of the UCCS record book, All-America accolades and Division II tournament appearances already under his belt, White opted to leave the comforts of UCCS and the Division II level for a bigger challenge.


While he has yet to play his first Division I game, White's season-long performance at practice only heightened expectations.

"The guys that are coming back to this team, we know what they can bring. But Derrick's kind of an unknown," Boyle said. "We know what he's capable of from watching him in practice the past year, but it's going to be really exciting how he hits the ground and acclimates to the Division I level when the lights come on. There's no doubt in my mind he's going to have a great year and be a big part of what we're doing next year."

White is likely to fit into the three-player wing rotation in place of Tre'Shaun Fletcher, who opted to transfer for his senior year after sharing that role alongside Josh Fortune and 2015-16 breakout scorer George King.

White already is considered a more polished one-on-one defender than any of those players, and he boasts a larger array of skills. While the raw numbers aren't likely to translate equally to the Division I level, White still recorded 15 career double-doubles at UCCS, notching three of them on points-assists rather than points-rebounds.

By comparison, King tallied just 23 assists all season while Fortune averaged four rebounds. White averaged 5.9 rebounds overall at UCCS, including a 6.9 mark over his final two seasons.

"I'm just going to try and be me out there and not try to do anything I can't do," White said. "I think I can help defensively because that's big in this program. Usually the (opponents') top scorers are guards, so if I can help slow them down that's always big for us."

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07