Forward D.J. White has been cleared by team doctors to participate in full-contact practices and play in games. With 15 games remaining on the season, however, it’s unclear if White will make his debut this year or if Thunder officials will hold him out of games until 2009-10.
White, the 29th overall pick in last year’s draft, has yet to play this season after undergoing surgery to repair a benign growth in his jaw. White underwent the first of two surgeries this season on Oct. 13 to remove the growth in his jaw. Doctors performed a second surgery on Jan. 4 to take a bone graft from the right side of his hip and mend the bone in his jaw. He had a routine check up Monday and received news that he has recovered enough to resume all basketball activities.
White still has visible swelling on the left side of his jaw but has been an active member of light practices and shoot-around sessions, doing everything but full-contact drills. Whenever White takes the court, he is expected to add depth to the Thunder’s frontcourt with interior toughness, a knack for rebounding and a polished offensive game that includes a consistent jump hook from the left block and shooting range out to 17 feet.
“He’s very athletic and he’s very active, especially on the boards,” said rookie Russell Westbrook, who teamed with White during the Orlando Summer League last July. “He can score and bring people out to the elbow. He’s going to be a good asset for us, especially rebounding and blocking shots.”
White earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors as a senior at Indiana in 2008 and was a Second-Team All-American. He averaged 17.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots in 33 games for the Hoosiers last season.