The Iowa forward had 17 points and six assists at halftime.
IOWA CITY, Ia. – If you wanted to make a "Best of Aaron White" compilation, Friday night's game film against Hampton would be a good place to start, and maybe finish.
The Iowa senior forward showcased everything he brings to the table — length, versatility, scrappy defense, an innate ability to get to the foul line — in the Hawkeyes' 90-56 season-opening rout.
Well, almost everything. That 3-point stroke he's been working on since last season's disappointing NCAA First Four exit against Tennessee? Still needs some fine-tuning.
But Friday was vintage White, and it's exactly the kind of star presence coach Fran McCaffery needs from somebody in the post-Devyn Marble era. His final stat line: 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting (his only misses were from 3-point range), seven rebounds and six assists. Oh, and one more thing ...
"I'm more happy about the zero turnovers, to be honest," White said afterward.
If the game hadn't gotten out of hand, White (21 minutes) might've had a chance to go for the first triple-double in school history.
To give Iowa a 27-15 lead, White flew his 6-foot-9 frame along the baseline to almost blindly tap in an Anthony Clemmons lob pass with his left hand over multiple Pirates. He then raced back on defense, poked the ball away, dove to the floor to collect a steal and called a quick timeout.
"He's got unbelievable ability to impact a game in so many different ways," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "Even just the loose-ball recovery and the timeout when we needed it, the crowd really responded to him."
He dunked on offense, harrassed on defense and got to the foul line — 10 times in the first half alone. He had 17 points, six assists and five rebounds by the time Iowa went to the halftime locker room with a 53-28 lead.
And this Hampton team was no slouch. Picked by many to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, the Pirates never led. They seemed overwhelmed at times by Iowa's big front line.
Hampton's tallest starter was 6-8. Iowa starts three players 6-9 or taller, and brings 6-10 Gabe Olaseni (12 points, seven rebounds, four blocks Friday) off the bench for enhanced rim protection. Iowa outrebounded Hampton 48-32.
"I think, more than their height, we turned the ball over and we were careless too much," Hampton coach Edward Joyner said. "They beat us on everything extra. Meaning the 50-50 balls, turnovers, balls on the floor."
White wasn't the only Hawkeye to shine, to say the least. Clemmons showed he is more than a defensive cog in Iowa's 10-man rotation. He buried a few confident 3-pointers and ended with 12 points, two shy of a career high.
Speaking of treys, Jarrod Uthoff's trigger was quick and accurate. The junior from Cedar Rapids Jefferson canned a pair of 3-pointers in the first four minutes and finished 4-of-5 from deep for the night. He had 13 points.
To say White's performance was a surprise would be inaccurate. There was a reason he was one of 30 college players selected for the LeBron James Skills Academy over the summer.
But if this is the Aaron White that shows up each night — he seemingly disappeared during stretches last season as the Hawkeyes lost seven of their last eight games, most notably in Iowa's Big Ten Tournament loss to Northwestern — Iowa City could be a happy place this winter.
"That's what it's going to take all season, to be honest," White said. "I've just got to set the tone with my energy and my activeness on both sides of the ball. And like I've told you guys, it kind of trickles down to the team."<