Rodney White, who was selected 9th-overall in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, was arrested Tuesday in Iredell County and charged with a number of felonies in connection with a marijuana-growing operation discovered on his Hiddenite property.
White had previously told neighbors the site would be a future “dirt-bike park for underprivileged children.” Authorities discovered 62 marijuana plants, some 4-feet tall, in an elaborate underground bunker on a parcel of land in an area northwest Charlotte owned by the former UNC Charlotte standout.
White and a woman named Nicole Denise Jackson were both charged with felony manufacture of marijuana; felony possession of marijuana; maintaining a dwelling for marijuana; and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to a report by the Charlotte Observer:
The front part of The Compound is innocent enough, with half-finished moguls and turns carved into the clay. A makeshift canopy protects dirt-bike engine parts and tools from the elements. Signs encourage people to ride safely.
But near the back of the track, a hard-packed clay driveway slopes down to a shed. The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office described what lay beneath the shed as an elaborate underground bunker hidden by a trap door.
In the bunker, a picture provided by the Sheriff’s Office shows two tables beneath high-powered lights. Electrical wires and a water hose snake from the ceiling. Two cans of Bud Light beer sit on folding chairs.
Iredell Sheriff Phil Redmond said investigators determined the Hill River Road grow operation was maintained by two men on site who were not named.
The 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward left UNCC and entered the 2001 NBA Draft after a freshman campaign in which he averaged 18.7 ppg and was named ESPN’s Freshman of the Year.
An athletic and dynamic offensive player, White was tabbed as the Pistons’ future at small forward, but struggled during his rookie season, finishing the year with averages of 3.5 ppg and 1.1 rpg in just 16 games.
That off-season, Detroit washed its hands of the once promising prospect and sent him to Denver in exchange for Mengke Bateer, Don Reid and the Nuggets’ 2003 first-round selection.
White’s first season with the Nuggets was arguably his best, with the forward averaging 9.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg and 1.7 apg in 72 contests. However, from that point on, White’s minutes and production slowly diminished and he found himself out of the league following a stint with the Golden State Warriors during the 2004-05 season.
Since then, White has spent a considerable amount of time playing overseas for various European clubs, including Basquet Manresa and Lagun Aro Bilbao of the Spanish ACB, Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli League and, most recently, in 2010 for the Zhejiang Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Although he had come to terms on a contract agreement with Anyang KGC of the Korean Basketball League for the 2011-12 season this past June, it remains to be seen whether White’s current legal troubles will permit him to join the team.
Got a take on the NBA Draft? Come join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter.
© 2011 Neal J. Leitereg — All Rights Reserved