Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery was standing courtside at Carver-Hawkeye Arena during a father-son camp Saturday morning when he got a text message from his forward, Aaron White.
“Whitey made the team,” McCaffery said.
A 6-foot-8 junior forward, White was one of 12 players selected to represent the United States in the World University Games July 7-16 in Kazan, Russia. Former Ames High School all-stater Doug McDermott, a first-team all-American at Creighton as a junior, was also selected.
“This is a very special opportunity, to have a month out of my summer to practice once or twice every day with some of the best players in the country,” White told the Des Moines Register from training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo. “I’ll learn from those guys, and the great coaching staff we have here. The only thing you can gain is knowledge and confidence from an experience like this. I’ve gotten better in the two years I’ve been at (Iowa), and this is just the next step to being an elite player.”
White came to Iowa under the radar, but his place on the World University Games team will make him a marked man for the rest of his college career.
“That’s why I wanted to play for Coach McCaffery and play in the Big Ten, to prove I belong at this level,” White said. “This is just another step. And every step I’ve taken, that’s been on my mind…to prove people wrong.”
A first round of cuts reduced the roster from 26 players to 16 on Wednesday. One of those getting cut was White’s Iowa teammate, Devyn Marble, who sprained a tendon in his right thumb on the first day of workouts.
“I’m happy for Whitey,” Marble said Saturday. “I knew he was going to make the team. He was really playing well.”
White is the third Iowa player to make a World University Games roster, joining Greg Brunner (2005) and B.J. Armstrong (1987).
“When you see somebody work as hard as he has and see it pay off this way, that’s an amazing feeling for me as a coach,” McCaffery said. “I’m absolutely thrilled for him. He’s going to be a phenomenal representative for the United States. He’ll remember this experience for the rest of his life.”
The team departs for Russia on Monday, and will practice three days in Kazan including scrimmages against Russian club UNICS July 4 and the Russian World University Games team July 5. The first official game is July 7 against United Arab Emirates.
McDermott, who averaged 23.2 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Bluejays as a junior and has accumulated 2,216 career points and 844 career rebounds, played on the USA Basketball Men’s U19 team that finish fifth in the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship team in Latvia.
“We are once again very proud that Doug will be representing Creighton and our program as a member of Team USA and the World University Games,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott, Doug’s father, said. “An experience such as this will be a great springboard into his senior season.”
White averaged a team-best 13.6 points in Big Ten play and 12.8 overall in a 25-13 season. White also led the Hawkeyes with 6.2 rebounds a game.
“This is going to give him a completely different confidence level,” McCaffery said. “He’s an incredibly confident kid anyway. He doesn’t rattle. But it’s interesting that he’s proven how good he is on such a national level. It gives you a different feeling every time you take the floor. It will help not only him but our team.”
On a team loaded with talent, White said his role will be making the effort plays that help a team win.
“That’s what I’m going to do going forward, and trying to win this gold medal,” White said.
Spencer Dinwiddie, 6-6 guard, Colorado; Yogi Ferrell, 6-0 guard, Indiana; Treveon Graham, 6-5 forward, Virginia Commonwealth; Luke Hancock, 6-6 forward, Louisville; Tyler Haws, 6-5 guard, BYU; Cory Jefferson, 6-9 center, Baylor; Sean Kilpatrick, 6-4 guard, Cincinnati; Alex Kirk, 7-0 center, New Mexico; Doug McDermott, 6-8 forward, Creighton; Adreian Payne, 6-10 forward, Michigan State; Will Sheehey, 6-7 forward, Indiana; Aaron White, 6-8 forward, Iowa.
Honored to put that @usabasketball jersey on again! Looking forward to Russia with a great group of guys— Doug McDermott (@dougmcd3) June 29, 2013
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball