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Florida State's Okaro White preps for shot at NBA draft

Okaro White averaged career highs in points (13.6) and rebounds (6.8) last season at FSU.
Okaro White averaged career highs in points (13.6) and rebounds (6.8) last season at FSU.
Published Jun. 25, 2014

During a two-week stretch this month, Florida State's Okaro White logged thousands of air miles, traveling to six NBA cities for what can be described as the ultimate job interview.

There were stops in Detroit, Los Angeles (Clippers), Memphis, Oakland (Warriors), Orlando and Washington. White, a former star at Clearwater High, tried to impress scouts, coaches and general managers by scoring well on a battery of tests in hopes of being selected in the NBA's two-round draft Thursday.

"That's the ultimate destination, to get selected," White said. "It's been a tiring process, something that's really stressful. Some of the flights are four hours, and just about every one was cross-country. They wear on your body."

This isn't the first time White has gone through a rigorous traveling schedule. During the summer before his senior year in high school, White traveled nearly 14,000 miles playing 10 tournaments in eight states as a member of Nike Team Florida.

"It was different then," White said. "That was four years ago. I was younger, and it was nothing to go out and play three games in a day on little to no sleep. I'm older now. But this is what I needed.

"I've been doing everything I can with workouts and training. It's still up in the air, though. There's a possibility I might be selected, but it's hard to really say."

White, a 6-foot-9 small forward, played well as a senior at FSU last season, posting career highs in points (average 13.6 per game) and rebounds (6.8) while leading the Seminoles to the final four of the NIT. He was one of 64 seniors chosen to play in last month's Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament, where he averaged 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in three games.

Still, White is projected as a low second-round pick at best.

"It appears unlikely that (White) will be drafted, but it remains a possibility," said David Thorpe, an NBA analyst for espn.com. "All it takes is one team to really like you. If he doesn't get drafted, he certainly has the requisite athleticism to get invited to the summer league."

With so much at stake, White has spent his time sharpening his workout skills at FSU and in Las Vegas with Impact Basketball. He took time off in May to come home for an NFL draft party for fellow Clearwater graduate Jeremiah George, who was taken in the fifth round by the Jets.

"It was emotional for both of us when Jeremiah got drafted," White said. "We had this big barbecue, and everyone was saying how we needed to have one for me. But I'm not sure if I'm going to stay in Vegas or come home the day of the draft. If I get drafted, I'll probably come home a few days after that."

White has been on a training regimen designed to bulk up his 200-pound frame. He said he has gained 8 pounds and would like to add more in the next few weeks.

"It's a solid program I'm on," White said. "The scouts wanted to see me add a little weight, so that's what I'm trying to do. I'm staying focused. Hopefully, it's enough."

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@tampabay.com.

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