Mike Davis knows what's right for D.J. White, and that's to return to Bloomington next fall.
The hard part might be convincing him of that fact.
Truth be told, the 6-9, 243-pound sophomore isn't feeling like he's back home again in Indiana these days. The Tuscaloosa, Ala., product came to Indiana for one reason – to play basketball for Mike Davis.
Now, he won't be able to do that, at least not in Bloomington.
A broken right foot shelved White for the first seven games of the year. After a brief return to the court in December, a second broken bone in the same foot brought an end to what was supposed to be a All-Big Ten sophomore season.
With White sidelined, Indiana eventually began to struggle. A fast start gave way to the team's recent tailspin, and before White knew it, his reason was coming was suddenly going.
"It hurts to be on the sideline watching my teammates," White said. "I feel like I am not helping the team."
Or his coach. Now, White is strongly considering helping the man that brought him to Bloomington at another destination. Davis has little idea where he'll be next fall, but White is contemplating following him wherever he winds up.
"I came all the way from Alabama to play for Coach Davis, and him not being here, I feel it's going to be tough for me to play," said White. "I'm a Coach Davis guy. That's why I'm here."
With Davis about ready to exit, White is poised to follow. But Mike Davis likely realizes that's not in D.J. White's best interest, and it's up to the soon-to-be-former IU coach to convince White of that fact.
If White transfers, he'll have to sit out for a second straight season before returning to the court. For a player who many thought might be ready to depart for the NBA after two seasons at IU, he'd suddenly find himself as a 22-year-old sophomore at a yet-to-be-determined university. While that doesn't squash his professional aspirations by any means, it certainly puts him well behind schedule.
White's other option would be to declare for the NBA Draft. Davis has said on numerous occasions, though, that White has NBA Lottery potential. If he tries to enter the draft after a medical redshirt season, questions about his health would likely drop him down most teams' draft boards, presumably into the second round.
As unfair as it might seem, the only logical thing for White to do is to support his coach and his teammates from the sidelines for the remainder of the season, wish his coach well when he departs at season's end…and then turn his attention to completing his rehab and getting back on the floor for the Hoosiers next fall, for whomever Rick Greenspan picks to coach him.
That's a hard conclusion to come to for a 19-year-old sophomore who, despite his imposing stature, is still just a kid. Like everyone else on the team, White's a little stunned by Davis' departure and a bit staggered by the fact that a healthy dose of the IU fan base turned on his head coach.
With Davis set to depart, White's feelings are likely alternating between anger, sadness, bitterness and guilt. He probably can't see himself suiting up for anyone other than Davis. But leaving isn't in White's best interest, and it's up to Davis to point that out.
Davis was the reason that White originally came to Indiana.
And now Davis might need to be the voice of reason to get White to stay.
DECKER: White Should Stay At IU
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