Like almost any young basketball player who calls Colorado home, visiting the Pepsi Center to watch the Denver Nuggets was a regular ritual for Derrick White while growing up.

Monday's experience at the Nuggets' home base was just a little different.

Instead of making the trek while daydreaming of basketball glory in the back seat of the family car, White was picked up at the family's Parker home Monday morning by a car service. A few hours later, the former University of Colorado star was going through his next-to-last pre-draft workout with his hometown team.

While White has become well-versed in the expectations of such workouts over the past two months, suiting up in Nuggets gear, even if just for one morning, was a gratifying experience for a player who, five years ago, had no Division I scholarship offers coming out of Legend High School.

"It's been a whole crazy process," White said. "I went (to Nuggets games) all the time. I'm a Colorado guy, so any Colorado sports team is my team. I was always at the games.

"I played (at the Pepsi Center) in The Show, and that was crazy then. I'll bet it will be even more crazy (in the NBA). I'm just glad to have this opportunity."

With the countdown winding down for Thursday's NBA draft, White has just one more team workout with Chicago before returning to Colorado to spend draft night with his family.


White generally is being pegged as an early second-round pick by NBA draft prognosticators, meaning it is unlikely he will land with his hometown Nuggets, who own the 13th, 49th, and 51st picks in the two-round draft. Yet his transformation from overlooked high school prospect to Division II All-American at UCCS to an All-Pac-12 Conference performer with the CU Buffaloes nonetheless has drawn the attention of the Nuggets' front office.

"He's obviously a worker and someone who's not afraid of a challenge," said Tim Connelly, the Nuggets' president of basketball operations. "It's not easy to transfer to the Pac-12 level and play against some of the talent he saw in Boulder. I think his natural tools really stood out at Colorado. He got better his redshirt year — got bigger, got stronger. You don't do that unless you have pretty strong intestinal fortitude and you really want it."

All business

Among the five other college players who worked out for the Nuggets alongside White on Monday was former Central Florida guard Matt Williams.

Williams was a big reason why White's one-season run at CU ended in the first round of the NIT, as he made 4 of 5 3-pointers and scored 17 points in UCF's 79-74 win on March 15. Asked if that outcome allowed Williams to direct any good-natured trash-talking in White's direction, he laughed and said Monday's workout was all business.

"We just said, 'what's up' to each other," Williams said. "As a competitor I'm going to respect him. Everything's all about basketball."

Also on hand Monday to work out for the Nuggets was Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame, Houston's Damyean Dotson, South Carolina's PJ Dozier, and Andrew White of Syracuse.

Pat Rooney: or