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NBA AM: Terrico White Hoping for Big Break

Five years after being drafted, Terrico White hopes to earn a guaranteed deal and finally make his NBA debut.

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Terrico White Determined to Prove He Belongs in NBA

Diehard fans of the NBA (or the SEC) may remember Terrico White.

The 6’5 point guard was the 36th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, joining the Detroit Pistons after two collegiate seasons at Mississippi. He’s an excellent athlete, and highlight reels featuring his impressive dunks have received hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.

However, what even the diehard fans may not realize is that White has never appeared in a regular season NBA game. In the first preseason game of his NBA career, he fractured his right foot. This injury ended his rookie season with Detroit before it really started.

The Pistons waived White in December of 2011. He joined the New Orleans Hornets’ roster shortly after, but he was waived within weeks. Since then, White has bounced around a bit. First, he suited up for the Idaho Stampede of the NBA D-League. Then, he decided to play abroad and spent the last three years with various overseas teams including Radnički Kragujevac (Serbia), Gaziantep Basketbol (Turkey), Hapoel Eilat (Israel) and Yenisey Krasnoyarsk (Russia).

But now, White is hoping to return to the NBA and finally make his regular season debut five years after being an early second-round pick. He has agreed to a training camp deal with the Phoenix Suns and he’s competing for a roster spot against players like Deonte Burton, Henry Sims, Cory Jefferson and Kyle Casey. White is hoping this is his big break that will lead to a guaranteed contract in the NBA.

“I’m very motivated,” White told Basketball Insiders. “Everyone counted me out. I heard things like, ‘He’s failed throughout his whole career.’ With this opportunity, this is my chance to prove I belong in the NBA and show everyone that I’m a way better man and a way better player now than I was at 20 years old.”

White’s stints with international teams allowed him to expand his game. Keep in mind, he is still just 25 years old so he was still developing in recent years. During his time overseas, White was often asked to take on a large role, which helped him grow as a player.

Take last season in Russia, for example; he averaged 11.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 28.3 minutes, while shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from long range (attempting 4.5 threes per game). White is excited to showcase how much he has improved since the last time he was on an NBA roster in 2011.

“You’re so far away from home and, over there, there’s not much to focus on but basketball,” White said. “There’s not much else for you to do. I was just staying in the gym all day, and you really get a lot better when you do that. I really improved my shooting, my ballhandling and my playmaking ability.

“I took on a way bigger role. It was cool because I’m used to having that role, since I had it through college. That role was fine with me, and it definitely helped me get better.”

White experienced growth off the court as well. When he first signed abroad, he was only 22 years old. Now, after being on his own in foreign countries, experiencing new cultures and focusing on his craft, White says he has matured significantly and is now mentally ready to play in the NBA.

“Mentally, I grew a whole lot compared to where I was at coming into the NBA at 20 years old,” White said. “Mentally, I wasn’t ready for the NBA [at that point]. I made some wrong decisions and stuff like that, so I just told myself that I needed to get away so I could grow up on and off the court.”

White would love to make the Suns’ roster since they’re a guard-oriented team and he believes he could do well there, but he understands that he’s auditioning for 29 other teams as well.

“My main focus is just getting on an NBA roster, whether it’s with Phoenix or another team,” White said. “If I do make the team in Phoenix, I think it’s a great fit and I feel like I could bring a whole lot since I’m still young but I also have experience too. … My agent, Daniel Hazan, was talking to different teams and Phoenix had a better plan for me than other teams, so we decided to go with the Suns.”

For now, White is training in his hometown of Memphis since he spent so much time away from home in recent years. He has enjoyed being around his family and friends again, but he’s also working out twice a day with a focus on “running the pick-and-roll, defending, shooting and ballhandling.”

He’s hoping that his hard work will pay off come training camp, earning him a roster spot and the chance to show what he can do on basketball’s biggest stage against the best players in the world.

“I’m very excited,” White said. “I felt that an NBA opportunity would come back around, but I didn’t know it would be this soon. I’m excited about it. I’m going to go in there and give it everything I’ve got.”

Basketball Insiders Podcast: Marc Spears

In case you missed it, a new episode of the Basketball Insiders Podcast dropped on Tuesday evening. The latest installment features one of the best writers and reporters in the business, Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports, as my special guest.

Throughout the hour-long episode, Marc and I discussed the NBA offseason, predictions for the upcoming season, Marc’s career as a sportswriter and much more. You can listen to the episode below:

The next episode of the Basketball Insiders Podcast will drop on Saturday, with Steve Kyler hosting. My next time hosting the podcast will be on Tuesday, with Kristen Ledlow of NBA TV as my guest.

To listen to older episodes of the podcast, subscribe on iTunes or go to our SoundCloud page.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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