It will be difficult, perhaps even impossible, for any basketball player to supplant Chauncey Billups as the sport’s gold standard in the state of Colorado.
Derrick White still has work to do to in order to break into that conversation. But if the rest of this week goes well for the Colorado native and former CU Buffaloes star, White will add another impressive accolade to his still-unfolding career.
Last week, White turned in an impressive showing with the USA Select Team, which was put together to train with, and scrimmage against, the preliminary roster for the USA National Team’s upcoming appearance in the FIBA World Cup. White was one of four players from the Select Team asked to compete for spots on the final national team roster this week in Los Angeles.
“He’s kind of carrying the flag for the state, so to speak,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Chauncey obviously was the MVP of the NBA Finals. Derrick has not approached that yet. But he’s doing a lot of great things and continues to make the state proud. It’s pretty cool.”
With Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III announcing on Sunday he is withdrawing from national team consideration, White will be one of 16 players vying for the 12 active roster spots. The Parker native capped last week’s training camp by recording 12 points, eight rebounds, and four assists for the USA White team Friday night in an intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas.
A first-round selection (29th overall) of the San Antonio Spurs in 2017, White spent the bulk of the 2017-18 season with the Austin Spurs of the G League before enjoying a breakout season in 2018-19. Though injuries limited White to 67 regular-season games, he averaged 9.9 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.7 rebounds. He made 55 starts and shot .479 from the floor.
While the Spurs were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in a seven-game first-round series in the NBA playoffs, White acquitted himself well against his home-state team, averaging 15.1 points while shooting 54.7 percent.
White was active for just one season at CU after transferring to Boulder following a three-year Division II All-American career UCCS, yet he made the most of his lone season with the Buffs. His 615 points in 2016-17 ranks as the seventh-highest single-season total in program history, and his 148 assists that season ranks 10th.
The World Cup team, led by Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, features 12 active-roster spots in addition to three alternates that travel with the team. That means just one of the players heading to this week’s training camp in southern California will not travel to China for the World Cup, which for the U.S. begins Aug. 31 in Shanghai.
This week’s training camp culminates with a Friday night exhibition game against Spain in Anaheim.
“Obviously people are aware of his story, how he’s gotten to where’s he’s gotten, but it keeps unfolding,” Boyle said. “If this kid makes the national team, holy cow, it’s going to be another chapter. But to be one of the 15 on that team, it’s pretty special. Awful proud of him, obviously, and I know a lot of people in Colorado are the same way.”