It’s a big day tomorrow for Royce White. The former Iowa State and Minnesota Forward is waiting, with bated breath, to find out where he will land in tomorrow’s NBA draft.

During last week’s pre-draft combine, the 270 pound Forward told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz,

“I’ve just got to be 100 percent honest in the interviews and everywhere this week and in the process. It’s hard to keep up with the lies, and it’s harder with anxiety. It’s a stress-booster. I’ve got to be 100 percent honest.” 

Apparently White has an anxiety disorder that includes obsessive-compulsive disorder and a fear flying. With millions of dollars on the line, you have to give White some credit for manning-up and being willing to talk about his diagnosis. While most people in White’s situation would stay quiet until at least after the check was cut, White has chosen to be the voice of an often underground medical condition that frequently gets labeled as a character flaw, as opposed to a true health diagnoses. Royce White wants to make it very clear that it’s not impacting his play.  He is hoping that by being completely forthcoming, others that are suffering from the same symptoms, will get help sooner. He also apparently believes in the team executives to take the high-road on this one.

Unfortunately, in a situation like the NBA draft, which will occur on June 28, 2012, teams are often scared off by anything that raises the mildest of red flags. There are a lot of guys coming out of college that have good stats, but Royce should still statistically go in the 1st round. There is rumor that there’s a Savior deal at pick number 21 with the Boston Celtics. That sounds like a pretty good opportunity in the long run, even if it doesn’t pay off financially, short-term.

Like every other professional sports organization, the NBA has a bottom dollar. They’re constantly weighing their risk/return ratio and anything that tips the scale into the red is going to be heavily scrutinized. It would be a real shame if his talented player, who has successfully flown all during his college career, would be passed over for a player of lesser talent, based on honesty. Flying is a necessity in the professional sports business and Royce White knows that. He hasn’t said he wouldn’t fly– only that he has a fear of flying. Any front office should know that there are well-developed programs in place to deal with the issue of frightful flying. In the long run, it would be a lot less expensive–for whoever ultimately drafts White–to engage him in some intensive flight psychotherapy than to take a complete pass. What Royce White can bring to a team, in terms of returns, seem to far outweigh any downside of drafting him. 

To be fair, White has had some scuffles in the past, at the high school and early college level, but that seems to have been dealt with properly. There was a high school expulsion, in addition to a shoplifting conviction and theft investigation during his brief stay in Minnesota. These factors,  no doubt, are being lumped together with White’s documented anxiety disorder. 

Who knows what will happen tomorrow in Newark. Given that Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a true mental health diagnosis, just as a torn ACL or other musculoskeletal issue would be, I wouldn’t necessarily expect the professional teams to overlook the situation completely. They wouldn’t overlook a bad knee and I don’t imagine they’ll look past a mental health disorder either. Let’s just hope, that if it does come down to anything lower than the Boston Celtic’s 21st pick, that Royce White will have brought some honest awareness to the dark underbelly of mental illness.

Wow… That seems like such a dirty statement for a guy that’s just afraid to fly.