Mark me down as a Jarrod Uthoff believer. The 6'9" small forward/stretch big man is one of the most highly skilled, offensive wing players in the entire country. With his old school, YMCA style of game -- complete with pump fakes, fade aways and some of the most exquisite foot work you'll see in this draft -- he can score in a plethora of ways.
Granted, for him to feel fully comfortable, his defender has to bite hard on those moves. When that happens, Uthoff is going to punish teams. Hands down. He's too offensively gifted. But, as I'm sure scouts have taken notice of, if his man stays committed and keeps his body on the ground and in a good, strong defensive stance, the 23-year old can get a little shell shocked.
If he wants to succeed at the next level, he has to develop some sort of "go-to" move when this happens. The speed, strength and physicality in the NBA is going to look more like Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart than Aaron Falzon and Sanjay Lumpkin. Uthoff can't just melt into a puddle every time somebody chooses to body him up.
But even if he doesn't, his extended scoring ability is already good enough to be "Bench Mob" worthy on a perennial playoff contender.
And that's before we even talk about his defense. Uthoff is absolutely underrated in this category. Even though he looks like he might be slopping through mud when he's running, he can play hard nosed defense on both guards and forwards. And he can do it effectively.
He was also one of the best shot blockers in the Big Ten conference and the country.
Now, I'm a fair fan and I know it's not all rainbows and butterflies when it comes to one of Iowa's best players of all time. There is -- unfortunately -- another side to Uthoff that reared its ugly head during Iowa's end of season slide: he sometimes can wither late in close games.
Look, he's not Buddy Hield by any stretch of the imagination. When Iowa was clicking, he was absolutely unguardable and the only way to permanently stop him was if you threw a wrench at his head Dodgeball style and hope he got knocked out. But when the offense as a whole needed saving, Uthoff wasn't always there to bail them out.
It just wasn't something he was very good at.
As Iowa's best player, I'm sure scouts and GM's alike are questioning his "intestinal fortitude" right about now. It's a warranted question. One, I'm sure, that accompanies conversations about his physical attributes like his less than appealing wing span, his slow feet and lack of strength.
But this guy was a fringe NBA prospect before entering this season and for him to still be a late second round draft pick -- depending on what mock website you so choose to look at -- it shows how great he was this year.
For those that might be reading this that only know him from his two NCAA Tournament contests, Uthoff was a unanimous first team All-Big Ten selection (first Hawkeye achieve the honor since Andre Woolridge in 1997) by the media and coaches. He was one of five players to be voted onto the All-Big Ten Defensive team. He led the team in scoring with 18.9 points, blocked shots with 2.6 (86 total on the season, which ranks 5th all time) and second in rebounding with 6.3 per game.
And if all of those words, accomplishments and stats don't speak to his range and versatility, then maybe this will:
Uthoff has the offense of an NBA caliber player. He also is a sneaky good on ball defender and an even better defender of the ball. His length and impeccable foot work are elite, and he is 100% capable of filling up the box score for a team like the San Antonio Spurs' second unit. No, he's not always the most physical player in the world, but he is heady enough to understand that he needs to work on those parts of his game. And in today's NBA, spending a second round draft pick on a potential stretch four that can shoot and block shots is a no brainer.