John Leyba / The Denver Post
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Opportunity knocked for Derrick White. Then misfortune struck.
It has been a rollercoaster week for the former Colorado basketball standout. Days after San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said White would be his starting point guard, the club announced the 2017 first-round draft pick will miss six to eight weeks due to a heel injury.
White was named the Spurs’ starting point guard days earlier after former Washington Huskies guard Dejounte Murray suffered a season-ending torn ACL.
It is a tough setback for White as well as the Spurs, who were looking to the former CU All-Pac-12 performer to help ease the transition of a winning franchise that no longer features longtime stars Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
“I went down to the first two days of training camp in San Antonio just to support Derrick and watch,” said CU head coach Tad Boyle, prior to Friday’s announcement of White’s injury. “You hate to see anybody get injured. Dejounte Murray is a heck of a player, obviously played in the (Pac-12). But also, the lesson is you have to be ready when your number is called. And if Derrick’s number is called, he is ready. There is no question in my mind that he’s an NBA starting point guard. Now he has an opportunity to go out and prove that and show that.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity, even though it comes as a result of somebody getting injured, which you never want to see.”
That opportunity now will be delayed for at least a month.
White spent the bulk of his rookie season shuttling between San Antonio and Austin, home of the Spurs’ G-League team. He logged limited minutes while appearing in 17 games with San Antonio, averaging 3.2 points per game and going 8-for-13 on 3-pointers. For the second consecutive year White turned in a solid showing during the NBA Summer League, and heading into the Spurs’ Friday night preseason finale he had averaged 9.3 points in four preseason games.
White started the final two of those four preseason games following Murray’s injury. In those four games he shot .424 with eight assists against five turnovers. He also was a perfect 7-for-7 at the free throw line.
Following the NBA Summer League, White worked out frequently at CU, allowing the younger Buffs an opportunity to meet a player who is a case study in perseverance.
“I talked to him and picked his brain a little bit,” said CU sophomore point guard McKinley Wright. “I just asked him what it takes to get to that level. Obviously Derrick spent tons of hours in the gym, and that’s something I’ve been doing as of late, just trying to get to that level and be able to provide for Colorado the way he did.”
In other NBA Buffs updates, George King, the next-to-last pick of the 2018 draft by Phoenix, appeared in just two of the Suns’ five preseason games, going 1-for-4 on 3-pointers. King signed a two-way contract and likely is ticketed for extensive time with the Northern Arizona Suns, the club’s G-League franchise. Andre Roberson, who suffered a torn patellar tendon last season, isn’t expected to return for the Oklahoma City Thunder until December.