Last season, Iowa's season came to a tumultuous end in the First Four of the NCAA tournament. The last straw was a loss to Tennessee, the Hawkeyes seventh in their last eight and a loss brought the final record to 20-13 after starting off 15-3. What caused such a drastic slide? One could credit this to Fran McCaffrey's erratic rotation, in which the Hawkeyes had 11 players in their rotation and no consistency on a game-by-game basis. Roy Deyvn Marble, captain and the Hawkeyes most talented player, is gone, along with fellow captain Zach McCabe and frontcourt bruiser Melsahn Basabe. With the departure of these seniors, more minutes become available, and the X-factor to fill this void has to be Aaron White.
White is one of the most talented players in the Big Ten, but was unable to showcase all of his talents because of the lineup changes. This season, I expect White to play point-forward and help to run the offense along with point guard Mike Gesell. The Hawkeyes have tons of talented shooters to help spread the floor, and 7'1 Adam Woodbury to be a rim protector and a finisher on dump offs. This leaves three areas on the offensive end where White can be an absolute beast: mid-range shooting offensive rebounding, and attacking the rim. In the video below, watch how White is able to find himself in tons of space for the open dunks.
Aaron White 13-14 Preseason Dunk Mix (via Frank Swanson)
He is not the most athletic or the best shooter, so he finds creative ways to put the ball in the basket. At 6'9, he moves more like a small forward, and is a matchup nightmare for true power forwards and even centers if Iowa chooses to go smaller. Defensively, he would not be considered a stopper, and Iowa will likely use Gabriel Olaseni or Woodbury against a more talented big man, but White is a solid help side defender and puts himself in good position for blocked shots.
The key for White and Iowa will be consistency throughout the season. It is easy to look at all of Iowa's returners and predict that the Hawkeyes will definitely be a better team, but they had one of the most talented teams in the Big Ten last year and woefully underperformed down the stretch. White will have to be a senior leader and control the offense, both in terms of scoring and getting the role players involved. I am most interested to see how McCaffrey will balance White, Woodbury, Olaseni and Jared Uthoff for two frontcourt spots. If Iowa can get this balance right and get the most out of all four, especially White, Iowa should be in great shape to contend for a top-four finish in the B1G and a high seed in the NCAA tournament.