Five spots, 14 teams: Will Aaron White be first-team All-Big Ten?

Chad Leistikow

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Let the debate begin: Does Iowa's Aaron White belong as an All-Big Ten Conference first-teamer?

White, a basketball junkie who can tell you just about anything about any Big Ten team, doesn't hesitate with his analysis.

"I think I'm deserving of the first-team," the 6-foot-9, 228-pound senior said Thursday, two days ahead of the Hawkeyes' regular-season finale against Northwestern. "I'm not one to promote myself or be arrogant. But you look at team record, statistics, importance for a team — I think I deserve first-team."

Long pause.

"You didn't think I was going to say that?" White said to a chorus of laughs among reporters at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

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In the first year with the league having 14 teams, the five first-team spots are incredibly precious.

Two are essentially reserved for Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky and Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell. That leaves three spots, and plenty of candidates.

White is definitely among them. He's averaging 15.6 points per game (eighth in the Big Ten) and 7.3 rebounds (third) for a team that is tied for third in the league at 11-6 (20-10 overall). In one of those losses, at Purdue, White was knocked out with a stinger injury — scoring four points in seven minutes.

White has averaged 20.4 points and 9.4 rebounds during Iowa's current five-game winning streak.

Other guys in the discussion:

•At least one of Maryland's stars Melo Trimble (16.0 ppg) and Dez Wells (15.2 ppg) will get first-team votes. The Terrapins are in second place at 13-4 in their first Big Ten season.

•Michigan State (11-6) also has two candidates. Forward Brandon Dawson leads the league in rebounding (9.3) but his scoring average (11.6) might hold him back. Guard Travis Trice averages 14.6 points and leads the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio.

•Yogi Ferrell averages 15.8 points and 5.0 assists per game, and with his 72 3-pointers has carried Indiana (9-8) at times.

•Purdue's 7-foot A.J. Hammons is a game-changer for another team tied for third at 11-6. Though his modest 11.3 points are 30th in the league, he racks up 6.3 rebounds and a league-best 2.9 blocks.

•Penn State's D.J. Newbill can't be ignored as the league's leading scorer at 20.3 points but plays for a 3-14 team.

•It's hard to imagine Nebraska's Terran Petteway repeating as a first-teamer despite a 17.8 scoring average — the Cornhuskers are 5-12 in league play.

Ballots are due Sunday night, and the conference will release the media and coaches' teams Monday. Iowa's Fran McCaffery has no doubt where White belongs.

"I'd put him on the first-team," he said. "And that says a lot because there's a lot of good players in our league."

Iowa landed guard Devyn Marble on both first teams in 2014. Before that, the last Hawkeye first-teamer was Adam Haluska in 2007.

White has made the league's third team the past two seasons. That might be about where Hawkeye teammate Jarrod Uthoff has a chance to land.

The 6-foot-9 junior has enjoyed a breakout season, with averages of 12.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 blocks a game. He also hit the game-winning shot at Minnesota with 3.5 seconds left.

"If I watch around the league, I don't know if I could name 14 better players that affect their team in such a way," White said. " I think he deserves to be on one of the lists.

"I can't imagine he won't be on one of them. I think he deserves that."

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