IOWA CITY — Iowa junior Aaron White has the ability to become a superstar, Coach Fran McCaffery told The Gazette two weeks ago.
McCaffery reiterated that point at the team’s media day Wednesday, saying White is “right on the verge of that.”
“I think this summer, if you think about what he experienced, I’m just thrilled for him,” McCaffery said. “To play for the United States team and come back home and then train with us and go back overseas and play, and play as well as he played and learn what he learned is really, going to pay dividends as he goes into his junior year. His jump shot has improved. His game is much more complete, and he’s a fierce competitor, as well. There’s somebody that I think has a chance to be first‑team all‑league and ultimately play in the NBA.”
White, a 6-foot-9 junior, is the only returning Big Ten player to average at least 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last year. He was tabbed a third-team all-Big Ten selection and started a school record 38 games last year.
More impressively, White was selected to the U.S. national team for the World University Games in Russia. He needs just 123 points to reach 1,000 points in his career.
“I think that I can be one of the better players in the Big Ten and the country and I agree with that statement,” White said. “I think I’ve gained enough exposure this offseason, I gained enough confidence, I can take my game to the next level, and that’s what I need to do this season.
“It’s my junior year, it’s time. I’ve had a pretty good two years and it’s time to make that next step up. I think that’s what Coach McCaffery means when he says that.”
Sophomore guard Mike Gesell is healthy and ready for the upcoming season.
Gesell opened the year at point guard, but then moved to off-guard, where he’ll open the season. He missed the final four regular-season games last year with his foot injury but started 30 games. He averaged 8.7 points and dished 89 assists.
“What you’re going to see with Mike Gesell is a guy that’s got a chance to be a star,” McCaffery said. “He’s in phenomenal shape. He’s making shots. He’s making plays. I’m playing him at both spots. He’ll still play a lot of one, even though he won’t start there, but he’ll play a lot at that position. Just an amazing, amazing competitor.”
The team displayed their new uniforms on the court. They feature a Tiger-Hawk embedded below their numbers on the back of their jersey.