Bloomington, Ind. – D.J. White is busy preparing for a season that many IU fans weren't sure they'd have a chance to witness.
White says he's physically recovered from two separate broken bones in his foot that derailed his sophomore season. He's lifting weights, running and playing in open gym this summer, medically cleared to do everything that his Hoosier teammates are doing in the off-season.
"Physically, I'm good right now," White said Wednesday. "The main thing I'm working on is strengthening my lower body, getting my head strong, my legs strong."
That's good news for IU fans, and it's even better news that the 6-9, 240-pounder will be back in the fall for his second attempt at a sophomore season. He figures to be the anchor for Coach Kelvin Sampson's first IU basketball team, one of the country's best big men.
But there was a time when no one felt comfortable about White's future at IU. After all, the outlook of White remaining in a Hoosier uniform appeared bleak initially, and still very much in doubt as recently as two months ago. Following Mike Davis' decision to step down at the conclusion of the 2005-06 campaign, both White and fellow IU sophomore Robert Vaden hinted strongly they might follow their former coach to whatever school he wound up at.
Davis eventually landed at UAB, and Vaden soon followed. But White said he decided his best option was to remain in Bloomington.
"I never really made up my mind that I was going to leave," White said. "I was just looking at my options, looking at the situation, and I decided it was best for me, my family and my career to stay.
"I try to be thorough in my decisions and I decided going to another school, sitting out two years, that wouldn't have been very smart for me."
Had White opted to transfer to UAB or another school, NCAA rules would have required him to sit out the 2006-07 campaign before returning in 2007-08. While that wouldn't have lessened the number the college programs that would have loved to have White on their campus, it would have been a tough pill to swallow for a player that many thought might depart for the NBA if he'd had a big sophomore season.
White also said that Sampson's approach to the situation made it easier as well.
"He didn't put any pressure on me," White said. "He talked to me and said ‘I'd rather have you here, but you have to make the decision for yourself.'
"He didn't put any words in my head or this and that about the situation. He just said he wanted me to play for him and to make the decision for me and my family, and the decision was for me to stay."
White also said his teammates were understanding about what he was going through.
"All my teammates said their parts, and I listened to them," White said. "They understood the fact that I didn't know if I was going to stay or leave. There wasn't that much pressure - they just let me know how much would appreciate it if I stayed. They were good. They didn't hound me. They were good about the whole situation."
With that decision behind him, White is now focused on being the focal point of the Hoosier attack this season. He knows that a lot will fall on his shoulders, both in terms of production as well as leadership.
It's a challenge he gladly accepts.
"I want this team to be on my back," White said. "I want to lead this team…I'm going to take it upon myself to lead this team on and off the court, so we're ready to face our obstacles."
White Talks About Decision To Stay
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