White still under investigation for theft
MINNEAPOLIS -- Tubby Smith's biggest in-state recruit in his short tenure at Minnesota has quickly turned into his biggest headache.
Smith said Thursday that he was disappointed to learn that Royce White is being investigated in the theft of a laptop computer from a student's dorm room last weekend, less than a week after he was charged with shoplifting and assault stemming from an October incident at the Mall of America.
Nobody has been charged in the laptop case, and Smith said the team is still waiting for official word on the extent, if any, of White's involvement.
Smith said White remains suspended indefinitely from the mall incident, and he's still gathering information about White's latest run-with authorities.
"It's frustrating, it's disappointing, but that's life. ... A lot of things happen and occur in a family or any organization," Smith said. "So you don't dwell on it. You move on to the next thing."
White was Minnesota's Mr. Basketball last season at Hopkins and was the prize recruit of this year's class. He will not play for the Gophers (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 25 AP) in the season opener Friday night against Tennessee Tech.
"I've just gotten some preliminary reports," Smith said. "He was a suspect in a theft. That's pretty much where it is. He won't be playing tomorrow, he won't be playing until he gets all of his issues that he's dealing with taken care of."
Smith said he has made no decision about White's long-term future with the program but that the team will have no trouble playing without him in the meantime.
White has a Nov. 17 arraignment scheduled for the mall incident. Bloomington police say Royce tried to steal about $100 worth of clothing and shoved a Macy's security guard several times after being confronted.
White was dismissed from DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis for academic misconduct before finishing his prep career at Hopkins, where he led the Royals to the state Class 4A championship.
He sat out the Gophers' two exhibition games, along with guard Devron Bostick and forward Trevor Mbakwe, who are also suspended. Bostick committed an unspecified violation of team rules. Mbakwe has pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony aggravated battery in Miami but cannot play until the case is resolved.
It's all made for an eventful preseason, and not in a good way for a team that is looking to build on last season's appearance in the NCAA tournament.
The Gophers have a soft non-conference schedule that should help them ease into the season, and forward Damian Johnson said the off-the-court issues have not been a distraction.
"We don't think any of the situations will cause us to lose focus," Johnson said.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press