Jan. 25, 2012
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa freshman Aaron White has adapted to college life, on the basketball court, and in the classroom. On the court he has been a key contributor off the bench for head coach Fran McCaffery. Off the court, he now has a semester of college life under his belt, a semester in which he learned a lot, both on and off the court.
“It’s gone well,” said White, a native of Strongsville, Ohio, of his first college semester. “Obviously, there is a lot of basketball. But, you have to focus on your studies, get your hours at the learning center. Time management is a key, mixing basketball, going to class and studying. You have to work hard in all aspects of life, not just basketball. I came here to get a degree, not just play basketball.”
On the court, White has earned recognition as one of the top freshmen, not only in the Big Ten Conference, but around the nation. He was recently named as the 15th best freshman in the nation by ESPN.com, including the third best in the Big Ten.
White isn’t a starter for the 11-9 Hawkeyes, but has played in all 20 games, averaging just over 19 minutes per outing. He is scoring 9.7 points and averaging 4.7 rebounds. His rebounding average ranks bests among all Big Ten non-starters, which makes him one of the leading candidates for Sixth Man of the Year.
“I’ve learned that at this level, you learn you have to play as hard as you can, every minute you’re on the court, both on offense and defense. I need to step up my defense and rebounding, I need to rebound better, go after it a little harder, and focus more on my off the ball defense.”
UI freshman Aaron White
With the Big Ten ranking as one of the top conferences from top to bottom, White’s numbers have remained solid in league play. He is averaging 10.6 points in conference games, along with 4.6 rebounds. He is shooting 47.8 percent from the field in all games and 52.5 percent in conference play.
“I’ve learned that at this level, you learn you have to play as hard as you can, every minute you’re on the court, both on offense and defense,” said White. “I need to step up my defense and rebounding, I need to rebound better, go after it a little harder, and focus more on my off the ball defense.”
White had an impressive debut, collecting 19 points and 10 rebounds in his first college game. The 19 points are the most by an Iowa freshman since Dick Ives scored 19 in his first game in 1943. While the 19 points remain as White’s season high, he scored 18 points in a nonconference win over Boise State and in Iowa’s 72-65 win at No. 11 Wisconsin. White has scored 15 or more points in five games and has twice been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
He seems to be adjusting well to college basketball, and the college lifestyle, making the adjustments on the fly.
“I’d say adjusting to how grueling it is on your body,” said White of the college experience. “Right now, in terms of games played, our high school season would be over. Practice is so much harder at this level. You have to take care of your body; eat right and get the right amount of sleep. Learning to take care of yourself and being focused for every practice, every drill, and every game is a must.”
White has been able to take advantage of his opportunities, on the basketball court, at the Gerdin Academic Learning Center and in getting his rest.
“I think I’m doing a decent job in that respect,” he said. “I come in early for treatment; I make sure to do my stretching and get ice baths after practice to take care of my body. I definitely am getting to bed at the right hour. If you don’t get your sleep, you’re going to come in here sluggish and you’re not going to help anyone out.”
The toll of the season hasn’t affected White’s performance on the court. He has scored in double figures in seven of Iowa’s last 10 games. By the end of the year, he is likely to rank among Iowa’s top freshmen in several statistical categories.
After a break in the schedule, White and the Hawkeyes return to action Thursday evening in Carver-Hawkeye Arena as Nebraska visits for the first time as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Game time is 6:02 p.m. on ESPNU.
“There is a reason the Big Ten is the top ranked conference in several of the polls,” said White. “From top-to- bottom, there are great teams. Guys are bigger and stronger and are more talented. Every night you have to bring your best, or you can get beat.
“Yet, we’re competitive with every team in the league, and we can beat any team in the league. You have to learn from what happens; you can’t dwell on losses and can’t get too high with wins. We have to focus on each game, and that starts Thursday with Nebraska.”