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ON AARON WHITE AND 'LEGACIES'

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How much will Iowa's success in this year's NCAA tournament affect how you feel about one of its best players ever?

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

It seems hard to believe, but the Aaron White Era (the Aara, if you will) at Iowa is coming to an end very soon, possibly even this weekend. Iowa's leader and steam engine on the court has a surfeit of superlatives to show for his career at Iowa:

2012 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten
2013 & 2014 Third Team All-Big Ten
2015 First Team All-Big Ten

No. 2 leading scorer in Iowa history
First four-year leading rebounder in Iowa history
No. 3 leading rebounder in Iowa history (20 behind No. 2 Kevin Kunnert)
Big Ten's leading active rebounder
No. 1 in free throw attempts and makes in Iowa history

He's never been an All-American, and this might not be the year to make it happen, but that's still getting more out of an Iowa career than just about anyone who's put on the black and gold before him. And yet, there's one stat that would also merit notice, right?

0 NCAA Tournament wins

Now, look. I personally think ascribing team goals to individual legacies, reputations, whatever is generally bogus and does a disservice to the guys around the player. QB wins are my least favorite stat in all of sport, followed closely by pitcher wins and losses. And yet, these things do matter. You bring in productive ball players and leaders so you can chase a championship; if they chase school records that's a happy but secondary effect.

Moreover, think of the existing list of the all-time greats in Hawkeye history. Guys like Ronnie Lester, B.J. Armstrong, Roy Marble, Acie Earl, back to Sam Brown, John Johnson and Don Nelson, and even farther back to the Fabulous Five. The only player on that list who didn't win multiple NCAA tournament games in his career was Nelson, and he makes the list for not only being a two-time All-American but by being an NBA champion and one of the greatest NBA coaches ever. The rest of the guys made their mark in March—even if that mark was losing to Duke in the second round basically every year.

Greg Brunner is Iowa's all-time leading rebounder. You probably knew that. Jeff Horner leads the program in career three-pointers and assists. You may or may not have known that. Yet neither of those players gets spoken of in the same reverent tones as the aforementioned guys, and neither player won a single NCAA Tournament game either. That's absolutely not their fault—we can start with their pious doofus of a head coach, but that's well-worn territory at this point—but Iowa's enduring record of March futility negatively impacts the way fans think of the players who played the biggest roles in getting the Hawkeyes into those situations to begin with.

The concern, then, is that if Davidson sends Iowa home on Friday, Aaron White finds himself shuffled off to stand with the rest of the "yeah, but" crowd. That would be a grave disservice to the work he's done on the court. His career totals of 13.1 ppg and 6.5 rpg don't leap off the page, but a guy who averaged just three more points and one more rebound per game in a faster game just so happens to have gotten his own ESPN 30 for 30 special this past weekend. That guy also just so happens to have played in four Final Fours and—not coincidentally—alongside some truly great teammates and with a truly great coach. That's not to say Aaron White is on Laettner's level, obviously, but in terms of individual production they're really not far off.

All of which is to just to say that if what happens this weekend, and maybe even next weekend, influences your opinion of White I'm not sure that's the smartest move. Sure, if Iowa makes a miracle Sweet 16 run that belongs in his "legacy" up there with the rest of his accomplishments. But he comes into this tournament one of Iowa's all-time greats and he'll leave it one of Iowa's all-time greats.