IOWA CITY – Lessons learned by Aaron White while competing for the United States in the World University Games extend beyond the statistics.
The Iowa junior saw the game from a different perspective while averaging 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in his first experience with a USA Basketball team during its ninth-place finish in Russia.
“The experience I gained was valuable and while I didn’t get bigger or stronger by playing on this team, I learned a lot about the game, a lot about myself and I learned a lot about leadership,’’ White said Monday.
The all-Big Ten forward filled a different role on the team, coming off of the bench in each of the eight games the United States played as it built a 6-2 record.
“It’s something I had not done in a while and I gained an appreciation for my teammates who do that here,’’ White said. “The way they stay ready and the way they have to keep their minds into the game, I understand that more.’’
White averaged 15.4 minutes per game, but walked away uncertain if he made the most of those minutes as he adapted to an unfamiliar role.
“If you are asked to come in and play for two minutes, you have to be able to come in and be on top of your game right away, give it everything you have,’’ White said.
“I’m not sure I was always able to do that, especially at first. I learned that you have to keep with it, stick with it, even when you aren’t on the court.’’
White appreciated the perspective provided by coach Bob McKillop of Davidson and his two assistants, John Beilein of Michigan and Frank Martin of South Carolina.
He believes he benefited from the trials experience as well, joining 26 other players who competed for the 12 roster spots.
“The days at the trials were long, we had full practices twice each day, but after a couple of days when I started to compare what I was doing with what the other players were doing, I realized that I could compete and that I belonged,’’ White said.
“I learned that at this point in my career, I’m competitive at a level with some of the top players in the country and that was something I hoped to see.’’
White expects that to carry over as he begins practices with his Iowa teammates next week as they prepare for a six-game exhibition trip to England and France in mid-August.
He believes he has prepared his body well for not only the Hawkeyes’ foreign tour, but for the start of practices in late September and an early-season schedule that includes a trip to the Bahamas, the fifth country White will have play in over a five-month span.
“I’m always ready to play. Every player loves to play games,’’ White said. “The practices, the coaches love those, but I came back from Russia ready to assume more of a leadership role on our team and I’m looking forward to getting back on the court again.’’