Hawkeyes' White Felt He Belonged On Team USA
By Scott Dochterman (Story) and Scott Saville (Video), Reporters
IOWA CITY, Iowa Aaron White didn't spend his summer focusing on as much skill development or weight training as he would have liked. But the incoming Iowa junior wouldn't trade his overseas experience for, well, anything short of the world.
During his long flight from Russia to the United States, White reflected about his three-week experience with Team USA. Monday, he said competing for his country against some of the world's best young talent both in games and in practice was more valuable than what he would have done in Iowa City this summer.
"You can't measure learning from Coach (John) Beilein, Coach (Bob) McKillop, Coach (Frank) Martin ... playing against that kind of talent, practicing as much as we did," White said. "You can't really put a value on that practice experience we had. You can't really put a value on everything I learned throughout the trip.
"I would say the confidence and the mental stuff I learned on the trip outweighs ... I didn't get really to work on my game. I didn't add a new move. I didn't do any of that. I didn't get bigger and stronger, but I learned more about the game. I learned more about myself. I learned more about leadership."
White, a 6-foot-8 forward, was one of 12 players competing in the World University Games in Kazan, Russia. The two-week tournament ended in disappointment for White and the Americans with a ninth-place finish. In eight international games he averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds.
White was one of the final players invited to the team tryout and was unsure how he's stack up entering training camp. But by the second day, he thought he established himself as a team member.
"I was kind of looking at there's no reason why I shouldn't make this team," he said. "I definitely felt I belonged here."
White has started 52 consecutive games at Iowa, but he was a reserve with the American squad. He said it was awkward coming off the bench in Russia, and he gained a new appreciation for those who do it consistently.
"You don't really think about your teammates that have to stay ready, that have to stay loose, keep their mind in the game," White said. "Not saying I've never done it before, but it wasn't definitely something hard because I haven't been used to it in a little while."
White is the Big Ten's only returning player who averaged at least 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds a game last year. He wants to be considered as one of the nation's top players. If he builds on this experience, he's certain he will be.
"I definitely think saying you made Team USA and saying you went over there is something you can put on your resume," White said. "It bodes well for you.
"I think it gives you a great deal of confidence. I'm hoping after my junior year that guys are saying I'm one of the top players in college basketball. So that's the goal, and this is one step toward it."