Despite Ups and Downs, White Has No Regrets

Bloomington, Ind. - D.J. White has seen every other member of IU's heralded '04 recruiting class go in other directions and he's seen two coaches be shown the door as well. But on the eve of Senior Night, he has no regrets about his decision to go to IU...

Bloomington, Ind. – No regrets.

Despite losing the coach that recruited him two years ago and then the coach who developed him two weeks ago, D.J. White wouldn't want a do over on the decision he made four years ago to attend Indiana University.

You couldn't blame him if he did. After all, the Tuscaloosa, Ala., native was lured from the heart of Crimson Tide country to the Cream and Crimson in large part because of his relationship with former Coach Mike Davis. But Davis was not-so-subtly nudged into resigning his position two years ago, a situation White had to watch unfold from the sidelines due to a broken foot.

Watching his friend and coach struggle under the pressure and scrutiny left a mark on White, who considered following him to UAB before opting to remain behind and stick it out in Bloomington.

Much of the credit for White's decision to stay goes to Kelvin Sampson. Sampson built a quick and strong bond with the 6'9", 251-pound star, and then re-tooled his game to the point that he's a virtual lock to win Big Ten Player of the Year honors later this month. But Sampson is now gone as well, asked to leave by university brass in the wake of allegations of NCAA rules violations in his first two years on campus.

"A lot of things have happened over the last four years, some things out of my control," White said on the eve of his final game at Assembly Hall. "But that's part of life. Things happen."

When White first arrived four years ago, few expected him to still be around for Senior Night. After all, he was one of the top 15 players in his class, someone who many thought would be headed to the NBA after one or two seasons. But while fellow top-flight '04 recruits such as Dwight Howard, Shaun Livingston, Al Jefferson, LaMarcus Aldridge and Josh Smith – to name a few – are now NBA veterans, White is just now gearing up for a life at the professional level.

Ironically, White might have appeared to be a long shot to still be here four years ago, but he's wound up being the last man standing. Davis is now in his second year at UAB, led by former IU player and fellow '04 recruit Robert Vaden. Two other members of that highly-ranked '04 class, Smith and Robert Rothbart, never made it to Bloomington. James Hardy, meanwhile, left the team two years ago to focus on football, and the final member of that class, A.J. Ratliff, left the team earlier this season for unspecified personal reasons.

"Different players had different things going for them," White said of that '04 class. "Vaden, I think it was in his best interest to do what he did, he made the decision and it's paying off for him.

"As far as James Hardy goes, look at him now. He chose the right sport. He's about to be a first-round choice in football, so it worked out for him. A.J. has been through some things, but he's still working on it."

White has been through some things, too, but not nearly enough to sour him on his IU experience.

"I think my love for the university has grown from being here," White said. "I love the campus, I love the people. It's been a great experience."

Those people love White as well. While his first two coaches dealt with the wrath of IU fans at different points during their abbreviated coaching careers, the fans' support of White has never wavered.

Some of that is due to the fact he's been a highly productive player during his Hoosier career, one that began with him being the conference's Freshman of the Year and will now likely conclude with him being the league's Player of the Year. But there's also been an appreciation from the fans for what White has had to endure during his four seasons.

When asked about what it means to be one of the Hoosiers' most-liked players in recent memory, White admitted that it's touched him.

"That means a lot, especially with all the great players that have been at this university," White said. "For the fans to respond to me the way they do means a great deal to me."

The fans will have one final chance to salute him Wednesday night, when the Hoosiers take on Minnesota at 7 p.m. on Senior Night. It will be a chance for the fans to once again show their appreciation for his four years, and for White to reflect on four years that didn't necessarily go as planned.

But those forks in the road haven't made White regret his choice to pick IU – and then stick with IU – one bit.

"For me, it was a great situation for me," White said. "I think the choice I made was the right decision."


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