As a father, Richard White obviously was going to support whatever decision his son Derrick made in pursuit of basketball dreams that, five years ago, were far loftier than his college prospects.
When Derrick White headed to UCCS after receiving no Division I offers out of Legend High School in Parker, Richard was right alongside his son in the belief that all he needed to showcase his overlooked skills was a chance to play.
When Derrick White decided he needed a bigger challenge after a three-year, Division II All-American career with the Mountain Lions in Colorado Springs, Richard agreed it almost was a no-brainer for his son to take his game to the University of Colorado.
But preparing a family party for the NBA draft? Even Richard White, devoted father and Derrick White's No. 1 fan, sometimes shakes his head in mild disbelief that the day has almost arrived when his son's name will more than likely be called by an NBA team.
"We always had the belief in him that if he got the chance to play, then he'll take it from there. He'll do whatever he has to do to get better and keep working," Richard White said. "But he somehow had to get through that first door. There's a number of Pac-12 people in this draft it's remarkable, and he was out there going head-to-head with all of them. It's beyond our wildest imagination."
After years of kicking through those doors and making the most of each and every opportunity he fought for, White is ready to hear his name called when the two-round NBA draft begins Thursday night (5 p.m. MDT, ESPN). White generally is expected to be selected by the middle of the second round, with a reasonable chance of joining such local basketball luminaries as Chauncey Billups and Pat Garrity as native Coloradoans selected in the first round.
Historically, 33 Buffaloes players have been selected in the NBA draft, including three since head coach Tad Boyle was hired in the spring of 2010 — Alec Burks (first round 2011, 12th overall, Utah), Andre Roberson (first round 2013, 26th overall, Minnesota), and Spencer Dinwiddie (second round 2014, 38th overall, Detroit).
"If he goes in the first round, that will be our third (first-rounder) in seven years. Which speaks volumes to the players and what they've been able to do with their time in Colorado," Boyle said. "If he's a second round guy, I think he'll go early in the second round. Obviously it means a lot to Derrick, but it means so much to our program. You love to see guys work hard like that and get rewarded. It's very beneficial for us."
As recently as a month and a half ago, White had been expecting to spend a semi-quiet night at home during the draft. However between the buzz White has created since the NBA draft combine more than a month ago, combined with the desire to share the moment with those who helped him pursue what once was an improbable dream, left the White family taking up the generous offer of a friend to host Thursday night's gathering at a bigger house.
In addition to a sizeable contingent of local relatives, those also planning to attend the White family draft gathering are former University of Denver assistant Marcus Mason, White's longtime club coach; Legend High coach Kevin Boley; UCCS coach Jeff Culver; and possibly Boyle, if he is able to sneak away from his current duties as an assistant coach at the U.S. U19 national team training camp in Colorado Springs.
"When it first came out we didn't want to have a house full of people and then he doesn't get picked," Richard White said. "Day by day things have changed. We're thankful that all these people can be part of the celebration."