Bio: Senior, 6'9, 230 lbs. (Strongsville, Ohio)
Last season: 28.1 minutes per game, 12.8 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, team-high 58.4% from the field
What we saw last season: I don't think you can say with any seriousness that White regressed last year -- everything but his minutes and scoring were up -- but it certainly wasn't much of a step forward. White averaged exactly the same number of points he did the previous season, played fewer minutes, and struggled to find his place in a team dominated by Roy Devyn Marble. It was one step forward, one step back: He reduced the number of maddening three-point attempts by half over his sophomore campaign and shot over 80 percent from the free throw line, but he got to the charity stripe less often. He increased his shooting percentage by 12 points over 2012-13, but he shot less frequently. He showed some ability as a passer and increased his assist rate by nearly a third, but he turned it over with increasing regularity. It might not have been regression, but it was underwhelming nonetheless.
What we need to see this season: All indications are that Fran McCaffery is handing White the keys to the car and letting him drive. On paper, that makes sense. White is the most experienced, most productive, and most accomplished player on the team. He played for Team USA in the World University Games in the summer of 2013, and followed that by spending the 2014 offseason at camps hosted by LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He has received all-Big Ten recognition in each of his first three seasons. He is Iowa's best and most important player, and it's not particularly close on either count.
But White is at his best when he is doing one of two things: Running in the open court or cleaning up at the rim. For two years, Fran has said (and we have hoped) that White's jump shot is coming along, and that his mid-range game will open the court for Iowa's offense. The fact is, though, that White's shot has not been consistent enough to make it a legitimate weapon, and his confidence in that shot wanes with every miss. The comparable for Aaron White is not homeless man's Dirk Nowitzki, as much as we want it to be. It's an evolutionary Reggie Evans/Doug Thomas hybrid, a forward with serious limitations in the halfcourt offense but who is far more athletic than he lets on, who can run the floor and crash the offensive glass for garbage points, and who might be better off understanding those limits and focusing on his strengths rather than continuing to chase the elusive jumper.
Fortunately for White (and for us), it looks like Iowa's offense is going to veer back toward the sort of drive-and-dish action that made him so effective as a sophomore. Too often last season, Iowa's halfcourt sets meandered toward a Devyn Marble isolation play, inevitably ending in a jump shot and unpredictable rebound. In that situation, White was reduced to little more than a role player, hanging around the perimeter for a stray rebound or desperation pass, reliant on that jump shot if and when he got it. If Iowa goes back to point guard penetration as the offensive catalyst, White's rim-crashing tendencies should be used much more effectively.
Best case scenario: The summer camps helped him develop his game and become the all-around scoring threat we need, and White starts shooting and dishing like the next Larry BirNO NO NO STOP HITTING YOURSELF STOP IT STOP STOP YOU NEED TO MOVE ON NO NO NO
Most likely scenario: Dickerson takes over at the point and allows Fran to run the rim-crashing offense he wants, Iowa fills the next two spots with perimeter gunners to spread defenses and limit opponents' use of zone, and White gets to do what he was born to do: run the break, crash the glass, and dunk on fools. He scores just over 15 a game on nearly 60 percent from the field and makes second-team all-conference.
One request: I feel like the student section needs to bring duck signs to every game and wave them around when White slams one home. Dunk l'Orange is such a wonderful meme. It needs to be blatantly exploited.