The fledgling AmeriLeague announced Thursday that it has formally signed former NBA first-round draft pick Royce White.
A Las Vegas-based startup league, AmeriLeague is pursuing top high school talent and well-known former NBA players by offering salaries higher than those available in the NBA Development League. White had been high among its initial list of targets.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported last month that AmeriLeague commissioner Ethan Norof had a deal on the table for White worth a guaranteed $200,000. NBA D-League salaries top out at $25,500 annually.
Other familiar names to sign deals with the six-team AmeriLeague include Joe Crawford, David Harrison, Myck Kabongo, Josh Selby, Henry Walker, Terrence Williams, Antoine Wright and Dajuan Wagner, who was selected sixth overall in the 2002 NBA draft by Cleveland and is trying to make a comeback after a string of health woes that brought a halt to his NBA career in 2006.
Veteran NBA center Tree Rollins and Joe Connelly, brother of Denver Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly, have agreed to take two of the league’s six head-coaching spots.
White, 24, was taken No. 16 overall in the 2012 draft by the Houston Rockets, but has logged just nine minutes in the NBA because of an anxiety disorder. He comes to the AmeriLeague after a summer league stint in July with the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Ultimately I believe I can play in the NBA, and I want to do whatever I can to get back there,” White told Goodman last month. “I’m 24, and to this point my career has had little to do with my ability. There’s a lot of misinformation out there that I require a lot of special accommodations, and that’s not the case. I’m willing to fly and flew several times to play in Orlando this past summer.
“Any belief I can’t fly is baseless,” White said. “I played with anxiety my entire year at Iowa State and did just fine. I continue to deal with it, but it doesn’t keep me from playing. If the teams feel I’m too risky, I’m going to continue to play basketball, and this league is intriguing and is something I’ll take a look at.”
Goodman reported last month that Cerruti Brown, the man behind the AmeriLeague, has extended lucrative offers to some of the top high school players from the Class of 2015. Sources told ESPN that there were discussions with Kentucky freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe, for example, but Briscoe spurned the money to attend college.
Norof has confirmed to ESPN that former Arkansas signee Ted Kapita has committed to the AmeriLeague for the coming season. Kapita, who checked in at No. 71 in ESPN’s Top 100, did not qualify to play for the Razorbacks this season.