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Aaron White hopes to elevate after Russian experience

[ 0 ] July 22, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The United States team didn’t medal at the World University Games in Russia earlier this month, but Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery expects to see an improved Aaron White in uniform this season.

“This experience is going to help him take his game to the next level,” McCaffery said Monday.

McCaffery has seen it first-hand as an assistant at Notre Dame in the late 1990s. Pat Garrity was a third-team all-Big East performer as a junior. The summer before his senior season, Garrity played overseas on an NIT All-Star team, then joined the Irish on a tour of Italy. He was the Big East player of the year as a senior.

White averaged 15.4 minutes, 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds off the bench in eight games in Russia. The 6-foot-8 junior forward will join the Hawkeyes on a six-game tour of England and France next month. White was a third-team all-Big Ten pick by the media last season.

“I’m not saying Aaron is going to make that same jump (as Garrity) necessarily,” McCaffery said. “ But I think he has clearly established himself as one of the elite players in our league. And that’s where he should be in terms of his mindset.”

White averaged 12.8 points and a team-leading 6.2 rebounds for the Hawkeyes as a sophomore.

“I’m hoping that after my junior year, guys across the country are saying I’m one of the best players in college basketball,” White said. “That’s the goal. This is just one step toward it.”

Lightly recruited out of Strongsville, Ohio, White has played with a chip on his shoulder for two college seasons. Now that he’s no longer flying under the radar, he’ll need to find different ways to motivate himself.

“I still want to make a living playing the game,” White said. “That’s the motivation for a lot of the guys that play college basketball. You don’t want to be selfish. You don’t want to play for that. But that’s something that’s in the back of your mind.”

White played behind Creighton all-American and former Ames High all-stater Doug McDermott on the World University Games team. The two were also roommates. White, who started all 38 games last season and 52 of 73 times in his college career, had to adjust to coming off the bench.

“It gives me an appreciation for the guys that do that here, my teammates,” White said. “That’s the biggest thing I learned. When you’re playing and getting all the minutes, you don’t really think about your teammates that have to stay loose and keep their mind on the game. It was definitely hard, because I wasn’t used to it.”

White hopes to use that experience as a way to improve his skills as a team leader and motivator. Iowa will have a crowded rotation, losing just Eric May and adding Jarrod Uthoff, Peter Jok and Kyle Meyer.

“I’m as interested as everyone else is to see the different combinations, and the lineups that coach McCaffery uses,” White said. 

Despite his overseas summer, White vows to be fresh and hungry when the 2013-14 season arrives.

“I love basketball,” White said. “It’s no problem staying fresh.”

Handful of injuries: Sophomore guard Mike Gesell broke his hand in a Prime Time League game last week and is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks. McCaffery also said that Jok and leading returning scorer Devyn Marble are dealing with hand injuries, but neither have broken bones and both are expected to play in Europe.

Guard Josh Oglesby was also sidelined for several weeks this summer with a broken finger on his shooting hand.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys banged up,” McCaffery said. “It’s unfortunate.”

McCaffery said he doubts that Gesell will play in Europe.

“Six weeks puts him at the end of the trip, four weeks puts him at the start of the trip,” McCaffery said. “I don’t think we’d push it. But I wouldn’t say never. If he wraps it up we might let him play a game or two.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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