MARION - On the heels of a breakout season, two words greeted the Marion football team as it began preparation for 2017.
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NORTH LIBERTY — Aaron White wasn’t exactly waiting around for his phone to ring the day he picked up an invite to the prestigious Kevin Durant Skills Academy.
In fact, the Iowa senior’s phone was broken the day he received the news.
“I was actually at the AT&T store,” White said. “Coach Sherm (Dillard) was calling me and he was like, ‘Where have you been? I’ve been calling you like six times.’ I’m like, ‘I was getting my phone fixed.’ I was pumped.”
Durant’s academy, which is held in Washington D.C. on Friday through Sunday, focuses on the nation’s top 15 college wing players. Among the others who received an invite include Michigan’s Caris LeVert (who declined because of injury), Arkansas’ Michael Qualls and Iowa State newcomer Bryce Dejean-Jones (a UNLV transfer).
White, a 6-foot-9 forward, clearly has the numbers to earn the invitation. He was the nation’s only player to shoot better than 55 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line. For the second consecutive year, White was named to the Big Ten’s third team and was the only Big Ten player to average 13 points and seven rebounds in conference play.
White paced the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (58.4), was fifth in rebounding (6.7), ninth in free-throw percentage (80.7) and 16th in scoring (12.8). He’s likely to set Iowa’s career free-throw record. He has 423 free throws, and Roy Marble holds the record with 516.
“I think it’s great for Aaron. It’s well-deserved,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “It’s recognition on a national level, it’s recognition by the NBA folks. That’s what that is. So they clearly have him on their radar screen for next year.”
The invitation shows respect for his game, and White instantly reflected on his path to this weekend. He was lightly recruited out of Strongsville, Ohio, and Iowa was his only Big Ten offer. He worked his way into the starting lineup by midseason his freshman year.
The camp not gives him a chance to showcase his skills and elevate his profile; it allows him to represent Iowa.
“It’s great for not only myself, but also for our school,” White said. “We haven’t had a guy like go to a go camp like that in a little while. it will be exposure for myself for the next level but also coming back to help obviously for my senior year and then continuing to put Iowa on the map.
“It’s really a blessing coming from where I come from, first coming here, getting an invite like that. It’s real special for me. I’m going to soak up everything I can. the top players in the country. Obviously one of the best players in the NBA will be teaching us. I’m really looking forward to it. “
White ranks 18th in Iowa scoring with 1,301 career points. He’s one of only four Iowa players (Roy Marble, Ronnie Lester, Jess Settles) to score 1,300 points before their senior seasons. If White matches his annual average of 433 points, he’ll move into fourth all-time. White needs 479 points to move into second. He totaled 488 points as a sophomore.
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