Aaron White: 'I broke down' after being drafted by Wizards
Aaron White worked out for 16 teams during the pre-NBA Draft process. One of his better workouts, he said, came with the Washington Wizards – the team that would take him 49th overall Thursday night.
That moment was emotional for the former Hawkeye great – who was surrounded by family and the entire Iowa basketball coaching staff, including head coach Fran McCaffery, at an Ohio restaurant where his family had rented out a room.
"The biggest word is emotional. I broke down when I was picked. Everyone else in the room broke down," White said late Thursday night. "Just a culmination of a lot of hard work. I can't even put it into words man, it's amazing."
The night also was pressure-packed – he was nervous about having so many family around in case he didn't get picked. As he had said before the draft, the second round (where many expected him to go) can be a crapshoot.
"If the night didn't go my way, it would have really been a tough night," White said, "saying bye to people without being picked."
But, when all was said and done, the 6-foot-9 forward from Strongsville, Ohio, who had one power conference scholarship offer was the fourth Big Ten Conference player off the board – only behind Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell (No. 2) and Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky (No. 9) and Sam Dekker (No. 18).
White's agent, Chris Emens, told him there were a lot of teams that could pick him in the mid- to late-second round. But White didn't find out for sure until McCaffery showed him a text message confirming the ESPN announcement to come from somebody at the draft in Brooklyn, N.Y.
"My agent called and said, 'I knew since pick 45 or 46 but I wanted you to be able to experience it on TV,'" White said. "You dream of seeing your name on the TV."
So, what's next? DraftExpress.com and CSN Washington reported early Friday that White would be sent overseas (with the Wizards still maintaining his rights). But Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld indicated Thursday night it would be determined by what White shows in the upcoming NBA Summer League, saying, "It's up to him."
White is a 6-foot-9 forward with a high basketball IQ and a knack for scoring around the rim and getting to the free throw line. The Strongsville, Ohio, native finished his college career as the Hawkeyes No. 2 all-time leading scoring and No. 3 rebounder.
"We'll get a good opportunity to look at him in our summer league," Grunfeld told reporters, "and then we'll make decisions as we go along.
"He can run the floor well. He's very athletic. He's versatile. He can make an outside shot. He's a solid, consistent player."
The Washington Post wrote before the draft that one of the Wizards' needs was "a floor-spacing big man." The high-motion, high-energy White would seem to fit that bill even as a second-rounder.
NBA teams are required to offer a minimum-salary ($525,093), non-guaranteed contract to second-round picks – meaning they can be cut at no expense to the franchise. So, White knows he could end up in Europe or the NBA Development League or cut or – best-case scenario – on the Wizards' 2015-16 roster.
"There's a lot of different options," he said before the draft, "and I'm open to all of them, pretty much."
Iowa senior Gabe Olaseni, a 6-foot-10 center, went undrafted. He impressed scouts with his athleticism and ability to run the floor for a big man. Though he is from London, England, his first choice was to stay in the United States. It's almost a lock he will get a shot in the NBA Summer League because of how he performed at the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational and in a one-on-one workout against No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor of Duke.
"If a team's really interested in me and if they're going to give me a couple call-ups, then I'll go to the D-League (as opposed to overseas)," Olaseni said before the draft. "I'm looking to really make a big jump next year."