In the months leading up to the 2015-16 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Today we're taking a look at the Iowa Hawkeyes senior forward Jarrod Uthoff, who comes in at #9 on our rankings. The Iowa Hawkeyes are seemingly in for an interesting year, with a lineup that features a lot of young, new faces and some upperclassmen that need to take the next step in their basketball careers. But if Iowa plans on doing anything at all during the season (and later in March), Jarrod Uthoff is going to arguably be the most important piece to Fran McCaffery's puzzle.
‘BTP 25'- #9 Jarrod Uthoff
- Eligibility: Senior
- Career Totals: 67 games, 1,632 minutes, 674 points, 370 rebounds, 85 assists
- 2014-15 Averages: 30.3 min, 12.4 pts, 6.4 rbs, 1.7 asts, 1.6 blks, 1.1 stls
- Positional Role: Forward
What a start for a collegiate career. Uthoff was a 4-star prospect and the 90th rated recruit in the country according to ESPN, who averaged 26.1 points per game and was named Mr. Basketaball. He had offers from Butler, Northern Iowa, Iowa State and Iowa but ultimately chose to play for Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin Badgers.
Somewhere along the way during his redshirt freshman season, Uthoff decided that he wanted to leave the Wisconsin program and some drama ensued. Ryan restricted Uthoff to transfer to 26 programs, including every school in the ACC and Big Ten. When asked why the restrictions, Ryan said it was because he wanted to find out what changed from the time Uthoff got on campus (i.e. the Badgers methodical system). He also wanted Uthoff to go through the appeals process and explain why he would want to attend each school.
Eventually Uthoff ended up at Iowa despite the restrictions, paying his own way the first year on campus (rather than transferring to a program outside of Ryan's restricted list). Because of this decision, Uthoff was forced to sit out his sophomore season due to NCAA rules. Since then, he's been able to contribute to the Hawkeyes, quickly becoming a fan favorite (and that's not only because he spurned Bucky the Badger for Iowa). He's increased he's productivity each year on campus and this season he will be leaned on more than ever.
It's his sneaky defensive capabilities. Sure he can score (and efficiently at that) but that's only one aspect of his game. He truly can lock down so many different types of players both in transition and in the half court. When watching Uthoff this past year, it was easy not to watch him on the defensive end (especially with Gabriel Olaseni roaming around behind him) but if you focused on him, I'd guarantee you'd come back nothing short of impressed. Just look back at what he was able to do against Davidson's Tyler Kalinoski during the NCAA Tournament last year. Kalinoski scored at least 11-points in 21 games going into that game against Iowa and Uthoff held him to just five points.
He's a pest at the point of attack. He's quicker on his feet than anyone anticipates. But it's his length that tends to give the smaller players he's matched up against fits. He anticipates movement so well and he tends to beat his opponent to a spot, putting him in great position to force that player into a bad shot (of which he ends up blocking).
Areas for Improvement
When I look at Uthoff's game, the only thing I could possibly pick apart is that last season with the increase of minutes, he took more long two's and less free throws than he did his sophomore season. If he can possibly turn more of those long two's into Popovich-ian three pointers, while attacking the rim when the offense gets stale, Iowa is going to be better for the wear. Oh and hovering around 73% from the line isn't going to cut it. Let's get that thing back up to 81%.
Jarrod Uthoff is going to be a gem. He's the defacto fill in for Aaron White, the offensive leader on this team and probably one of McCaffery's best defenders. If he doesn't finish the season at least as a Big Ten 2nd teamer, something went horribly wrong. He's shown the ability, wherewithal and drive to take steps up (especially late in the season, when the games matter most) and I fully expect for that to be true in 2015. If he does in fact convert those long two's he settled on at times last season into three pointers, he should easily be able to push his points per game up. He's going to have to contribute even more than usual on the glass (at least in the early going) and if/when the double teams come, patience in his passing game will be integral for the offensive flow.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings
- Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #25 - Kendrick Nunn (Illinois)
- #24 - Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern)
- #22 (tie) Rasheed Sulaimon (Maryland)
- #22 (tie) - Thomas Bryant (Indiana)
- #21 - Rapheal Davis (Purdue)
- #20 - Derrick Walton Jr. (Michigan)
- #19 - Caleb Swanigan (Purdue)
- #18 - Shavon Shields (Nebraska)
- #17 - Eron Harris (Michigan State)
- #16 - Zak Irvin (Michigan)
- #15 - Jae'Sean Tate (Ohio State)
- #14 - Bronson Koenig (Wisconsin)
- #13 - Alex Olah (Northwestern)
- #11 (tie) - Diamond Stone (Maryland)
- #11 (tie) - James Blackmon, Jr. (Indiana)
- #10 - Malcolm Hill (Illinois)
- #9 - Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa)
- #8 - To be continued ...