Iowa's Aaron White wants Hawkeyes to be more intense
JUL 15, 2014 6:20p ET
What White has learned is that the Hawks will need to worry more about their intensity than their expectations in 2014-15.
White will enter next season as the face of the program with Devyn Marble's departure to the NBA. It'll be a major challenge for White, the leading returning scorer from a team that reached as high as No. 10 in the country before losing seven of their last eight games and falling to Tennessee in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
''Last year was the first time that we expected to do big things. Early on in the year we had guys saying we could go to the Final Four, we had a chance to go to the Sweet Sixteen. That's a lot of pressure on a team, especially a team that hasn't been in the limelight up until that point. So for myself, and the rest of guys really learned not to buy into anything,'' White said. ''You can't take anything for granted.''
To that end, White has done everything in his power to improve this summer.
White participated in skills academies hosted by Kevin Durant and LeBron James in the past few weeks. The invitations to those camps are reserved for the nation's top players, and what struck White was how spirited the competition was at all times.
White, a third-team All-Big Ten pick last season, returned to Iowa City intent on pushing his teammates more than ever.
''We've got to really ramp up the intensity,'' White said. `Even if it's cheering on the sideline or whatever it may be, we've just got to do everything at a high level because that's how the game is played,'' White said.
White has also worked this summer to fix his jumper, perhaps the most glaring deficiency in his game.
White shot a career-high 58.4 percent from the floor last season in averaging 12.8 points a game. But the majority of his baskets came from inside the paint, and down the stretch he often passed on open mid-range jumpers.
If White can develop a perimeter game that opponents have to worry about, he could easily emerge as one of the Big Ten's best players next season.
''Half the battle with the jumper is that you have to be confident shooting it,'' White said. ''I wasn't confident shooting the ball at the end of last year and that's why I didn't shoot it. In order for me to perform how I need to perform and to help us is to make open shots.