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28 Feb, 2019 15:37

From court to cage: Former NBA player Royce White to swap basketball for MMA

From court to cage: Former NBA player Royce White to swap basketball for MMA

Former college basketball star Royce White, formerly of the NBA's Sacramento Kings, has announced he is swapping the court for the cage and hopes to make a name for himself in the sport of mixed martial arts.

The 6ft 8in former first-round selection for the Houston Rockets has launched a book documenting his journey, and the former Iowa State product said he wants to use all the attributes that made him a first-round draft pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and transition them to his new career inside the cage.

"I’m one of the best athletes in the world," he said. "Among the NBA community, part of my appeal as a draft prospect was my unique size, athleticism, vision and that I probably have one of the 10 biggest sets of hands in the NBA. I think all of those things will translate beautifully to the UFC."

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Of course, none of those actually equate to a skilled mixed martial arts fighter and, in an attempt to improve his combat arsenal, White has been training in MMA for seven months.

But while the former basketball star may be playing catch-up with his in-cage skills, one thing he doesn't seem to lack is expert backing.


White is training at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, which helped forge the world champion careers of Brock Lesnar and Sean Sherk, who both captured UFC world titles while training at the gym.

And the giant former power forward says he's excited to take the next step in his athletic career.

"I’ve always been a fan of the fight game since I was young," White said. "I played point guard as a 265-pounder in the NCAA. In order to do so, not only do you have to have great court vision, you have to have great tempo and great footwork.

"Those things naturally translate to the fight game. I’m excited about it, but more so than anything, I’m excited about learning this thing that I’ve loved from the sidelines for so long, and applying it."

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White's NBA career never took off after his struggles with generalized anxiety syndrome left him sidelined for the entirety of his rookie season with the Rockets.

He never made it onto the court and he was farmed out to developmental league side Rio Grande Valley and, after joining NBA's Sacramento Kings, another D-League outfit, the Reno Bighorns. In total he made three appearances in the NBA for Sacramento, averaging just three minutes per game and failing to register a single point.

His career then saw him move north of the border to Canada, where he played in the newly-formed NBL Canada league, where he earned MVP honors after leading the London Lightning to the championship in 2017.