White reflects on stint with Team USA

BY CODY GOODWIN | JULY 23, 2013 5:00 AM

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One of the biggest takeaways Aaron White listed during his experience with Team USA over the past month was the fact that he came off the bench.

It was a matter of perspective for White. He began by saying it was different — it was, of course, something he was not used to. But the lesson he took from it gave the 20-year-old an appreciation for those who do it for Fran McCaffery’s squad back home.

“I think that’s the biggest thing I learned from it,” White said. “When you’re playing and getting all the minutes, you don’t really think about your teammates who have to stay ready, who have to stay loose and keep their minds in the game.

“Not that I’ve never done it before, but it was definitely something hard because I haven’t been used to it in a while.”

White averaged 15.4 minutes off the bench for Team USA at the World University Games. He averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 boards per contest, too. And over the eight games — in which USA went 6-2 and finished ninth — White shot 54.5 percent from the field.

Stats aside, White said there was more to the trip than the wins and playing time. The Strongsville, Ohio, native couldn’t place value on the experience and knowledge gained from his trip to Kazan, Russia.

He was prompted on Monday afternoon, when he addressed the media about his stint at the games, with whether the trip allowed him to progress as a basketball player. White said the experience didn’t allow him to develop any one part of his game specifically — something he might’ve done had he played in the Prime Time League this summer — but it did allow him to further grow as a player and even as a person.

“The confidence and mental stuff I learned outweighs [the physical development] because I didn’t really get to work on my game,” he said. “I didn’t add a new move or get bigger or stronger, but I learned more about the game and myself. I learned more about leadership. That’s definitely the bigger thing I learned.”

Many factors played into White’s growth. The 6-8 forward pointed to his roommate, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, as someone he connected with and learned from during his trip.

Even more, White was surrounded by familiar faces while sporting the Red, White, and Blue uniform. Indiana’s Will Sheehey and Yogi Ferrell as well as Michigan State’s Adreian Payne played alongside White — all Big Ten foes come time for the regular season.

Michigan basketball coach John Beilein was also on the coaching staff. He joked with White about not offering him a scholarship out of high school after seeing him blossom into a star for Iowa. This made White smile because “not many [Big Ten] schools did,” he said.

“All of those guys are pretty good guys,” White said. “It’s good to be able to play with a different group … being able to learn different tendencies, it might be able to help us here. It can help us as a team here.”

And that was what White spoke most confidently about on Monday — this experience is nice, he said, but he’s ready to use it and lead this Iowa team come the winter season. That’s what really matters to him.

“I really can’t thank the game of basketball and everything that I have enough,” he said. “Just really thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given, and I’m just trying to make the most of them.”

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