White & Hamilton: A Lifetime of Support

In a day and age when sensationalistic news grabs the most headlines, Ray Hamilton and Aaron White share a friendship that stretches back to childhood and a strong work ethic that can make Hawkeye fans proud.

Iowa CITY, Iowa - Casual friends sometimes find it difficult being honest with each other. Aaron White and Ray Hamilton are frank like brothers.

The Iowa seniors arrived here after meeting in elementary school. They built their bond through the years in Strongsville, Ohio and played high school basketball together. False pretenses left the relationship a long time ago, if they ever even existed.

Their truthfulness with each other stems from caring. It's a unique support system when two guys from the same town play two different sports at the same school so far from home.

"We more push each other more than telling each other we've done a great job or you're doing this well. We are more apt to tell each other what we could be doing better. We both want the best for each other. We both expect a lot out of each other. He's been a great friend for me," said White, a two-time all-Big Ten basketball player.

Said Hamilton, a tight end on the football team: "We do a pretty good job of keeping in touch. Sure, we're in two different seasons and we're both keeping busy, but we know that we can both help each other, teach each other certain things and just be there for each other. Ever since this started, we both have helped each other along. It's been a really fun, productive couple of years here with him and it started way back when it grade school. It's a friendship that's truly awesome."

While they've traveled different collegiate career paths, the pals figure to be important pieces for their respective sports in 2014-15. White returns after leading the team in rebounding (6.67 RPG) and ranking second in scoring (12.8 PPG) as a junior. Hamilton expects to step into a starting spot after playing significant snaps a year ago behind C.J. Fiedorowicz, a third-round NFL Draft pick in May.

Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery inserted White into his starting line-up during his freshman season. He responded by averaging 11.1 points in 23.8 minutes a game. His performance surprised a lot of people who overlooked him in high school.

White chose Iowa ahead a scholarship offer from Duquesne. Akron and Toledo also wanted him.

"The one thing that hasn't changed and why it hasn't surprised me that he's been so successful is his work ethic. That's something that I know we hear a lot on TV when you're watching a game, but as one of his best friends that's been there since grade school, his work ethic is the real deal. He does a great job and I expect nothing but great things from him once again this year," Hamilton said.

White earned third-team all-Big Ten honors the last two years and represented the USA in the World University Games last summer. This offseason, he's earned invites to the Kevin Durant and LeBron James Skill Academies, two prestigious events including some of the best players in the country.

"Going to the KD camp, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Everybody else there has been to elite camps. They probably went to that thing when they were in high school. It doesn't make me any less of a player. I just got there a different route. There's some pride in that for me. Nothing was handed to me. I had to go get it. A lot of that goes to my position here with Coach McCaffery and my teammates," the 6-foot-9, 220-pound White said.

Said Hamilton: "He's done a hell of a job. I think that's what that boils down to. He had an opportunity there as a freshman coming in. I specifically remember him in the Wisconsin game his freshman year just kind of going off there. That's kind of what started the trickle effect of his success here. He's done just an unbelievable job," Hamilton said.

While White flew under the recruiting radar through high school, Hamilton became a household name. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 18 tight end in the country for the '10 Class. He reported scholarship offers from Michigan, Oklahoma, Stanford and Wisconsin, among others.

Unlike White, Hamilton entered Iowa with a loaded depth chart at his position. He played as a true freshman but much of that work came on special teams.

"The sports are so different. Football, unless you're Jadeveon Clowney, you can't come in as a freshman and dominate or play big minutes just because you're not big and strong enough. I think he's done a great job of playing his role and waiting his turn. He's primed for a big year this year," White said.

The Hawkeyes utilize a lot of two-tight end sets. Hamilton received most of his playing time the last two seasons as the guy at the position most responsible for blocking, catching just 10 passes for 115 yards during that span. With Fiedorowicz gone, he likely will see more balls thrown his way.

"I'd like to consider myself a well-rounded tight end. I leave that for everybody else to assess but I take a lot of pride in the run game, first and foremost. I love it. I think it's one of the most exhilarating feelings moving a grown man who doesn't want to be moved. Don't get me wrong, I love catching passes, too. I think that goes for everybody in our group. In order to play and catch those passes, you've got to be able to block first," Hamilton said.

The 6-foot-5, 252-pound Hamilton showed off his capabilities in the spring game. He caught a short pass, plowed over safety Jordan Lomax and sprinted into the end zone from 40 yards out.

Perhaps the Strongsville duo continues its upward climb to playing professionally. Maybe the stars align and it happens in the same city. That's unlikely.

Fortunately for the longtime buddies, they have the next year to continue supporting each other. Whether they meet up a lot or just a little, there's comfort in knowing they're close.

"It's been hard. Both of us have our own schedule with our sports. We've both got girlfriends and we both have different groups of friends, him with football and me with basketball. But it's funny because even if we don't get to hang out for a month or two, once we see each other it's the same as high school, same as our whole lives. He's going to be one of those friends where we're going to be friends for the rest of our lives," White said.

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