IOWA CITY, Iowa - In the first year of Coach Fran McCafery's Iowa tenure, Jarryd Cole was the leader. He was followed by Matt Gatens, Eric May and Roy Devyn Marble in successive seasons. In an unwritten right of passage, Aaron White has stepped into that important Hawkeye role.
White, a senior, earned third-team all-Big Ten honors the last two seasons. He led by example. McCaffery told everybody who would listen this offseason that it was the senior's team.
"He said that publicly but I kind of felt that anyway. It's kind of my time to take over that leadership role. It's not something I'm going to back down from. I've got to be more vocal, lead by example and just show what it takes to win at this level," White said Thursday at Iowa's Annual Media Day here at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
White led Iowa in rebounding with 6.7 per contest last season. He finished second to Marble in scoring at 12.8 points per game. He's contributed well statistically since he arrived here as an under-recruited, skinny kid from Strongsville, Ohio.
"There's always one player that sort of becomes the identity of the team," McCaffery said. "He's the guy that has established himself as a player. He's also established himself in terms of work ethic. He’s also the guy that will speak up.
"You can have a leader by example but it helps if that guy is your hardest worker, but also communicates well and is received well by the other players, in particular, the young players."
The challenge facing White now is finding the right buttons to push to make each of his teammates reach their potential.
"I'm working on how to approach guys. You have to approach different guys different ways depending on the situation. Some situations call for you to jump on a guy and call him out for what he did. In another situation, you have to put your arm around a guy. That's what coaches do. Coach (Kirk) Speraw has talked to me a lot about it," White said.
White has worn his emotions on the outside since he was a freshman. He's seemed like a natural leader but hasn't always felt the freedom to do it.
"Last year, I really wanted to be that leader that stepped up and took control of the team and it was just a little bit hard, to be honest, with Dev, clearly the guy, the go-to guy. I didn't want to step on any of the seniors' shoes. That's not making any excuses by any means, it's just a different situation. Now, it's my last year. I don't feel like there's anything holding me back. I don't feel like I have any restrictions," he said.
"By no means is this, Aaron, you have to do this all by yourself," White said. "We've got guys on this team that step up, that are very vocal, that also know what it takes to win at this level. Everybody steps up in certain situations and I really like our team in that manner."