Iowa freshman forward Aaron White is proving that being ignored can be a powerful motivator.
The 6-foot-8 White said before every game he thinks about how he was passed over for a scholarship by every Big Ten school except Iowa.
He already has made Wisconsin and Ohio State pay for it by combining to score 28 points in the two road victories and next up is a game against his home state Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Ohio State will bring records of 14-2 overall and 2-1 in the conference into the game, along with being ranked sixth nationally.
“Other Big Ten schools had interest and talked about offering me and stuff like that,” White said before practice on Friday “But when it came down to it, the only school that actually called and said I want you to come to our school was the University of Iowa from the Big Ten.
“I do think about that every time we play.”
White is from the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville, Ohio, which he said is about and an hour-and-a-half drive from the Ohio State campus in Columbus.
He had some contact with the Ohio State assistant coaches during the recruiting process, but he never spoke with head coach Thad Matta about playing for the Buckeyes.
White doesn’t appear bitter about being passed over by Matta because he understands that Matta routinely signs one of the top recruiting classes in the Big Ten.
“They weren’t like mean about it or anything,” White said of the Ohio State coaches. “They never offered.” It was their decision. Obviously, they had a great recruiting class. They got some good players. And they had some good players already.”
White said he was different than most of the people in his hometown in that he wasn’t an Ohio State fan growing up.
“I was never really a Buckeye fan to be honest with you just because everybody around me was,” White said.
White has emerged as one of the top freshman in the Big Ten. He already twice has been named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week and he ranks third on the team in scoring (9.6) and second in rebounding (4.6).
“I think one of the things that really stood for us, you watch him play, sort of his court demeanor, he doesn’t seem to rattle in any way,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “He doesn’t fight the game. The game comes easy to him. When there is space, he drives it. When he’s open, he shoots it. He gives it up if he’s covered.”
McCaffery was impressed with White’s versatility during the recruiting process and even more so now.
“When you have a player who is 6-8 and 220 (pounds), he’s got a good frame and understands how to play in and out, that simplifies things a lot for us,” McCaffery said. “It makes it harder to prepare for us.”
White said he is eager to see the turnout for Saturday’s game, which will tip-off at 2 p.m. Iowa is coming off back-to-back Big Ten road victories for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
There were approximately 1,400 tickets left for the Ohio State as of Friday afternoon.
“We played well and the fans have a reason to come and watch us now,” White said. “This place should be packed tomorrow. It’ll be a great atmosphere and a great team to play against. It’s just going to be exciting.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball