The six head coaches in the Prime Time League still have more than a month to decide who they would take with the first pick in the June 16 PTL draft.
They might need that much time given all the attractive options and with the uncertainty surrounding Devyn Marble’s summer schedule.
From versatile forwards Aaron White and Jarrod Uthoff to 7-foot-1 center Adam Woodbury to combo guard Mike Gesell, the 2013 PTL draft is loaded thanks to an Iowa basketball program that is surging under coach Fran McCaffery.
Iowa is coming off a season in which it won 25 games and finished runner-up to Baylor in the NIT. Senior Eric May is the only scholarship player not returning to an Iowa roster that will have 13 players on scholarship next season.
“I think the competition, especially in the front line, is just incredible,” said Randy Larson, who in addition to coaching in the PTL also serves as commissioner for the league that he launched in 1987. “One of the things Fran said when he got here is that we need depth because depth produces competitiveness in practice every day.
“And that competitiveness in practice every day is where you improve. We don’t just need better players just because they’re better players. We need better players because having better players will make our players develop quicker and more. And that’s exactly what you see.”
The 6-6 Marble likely would get strong consideration as the top pick, but Larson said Marble will be unavailable for several games and maybe more because of scheduling conflicts caused by him trying out for a select all-star team.
“I would say most people would take him first if not for that,” Larson said of Marble, who led Iowa in scoring this past season with a 15.0 per-game average. “But when you factor the fact that he might miss half the games or more, he might miss all of them if he gets picked.”
Senior-to-be forward Melsahn Basabe is the only Iowa player on scholarship who won’t be available for the PTL draft. Basabe plans to spend part of the summer in his home state of New York and would’ve missed too many PTL games so he decided not to participate.
The NCAA also has rule that prohibits more than two college teammates from playing on the same summer league team. And because the PTL has six teams, one of Iowa’s 13 players on scholarship would’ve had to sit out this summer.
Incoming freshman guard Peter Jok will make his PTL debut this summer. The 6-foot-6 Jok, who is a senior at West Des Moines Valley, signed a letter of intent with Iowa in November. He is the only member of Iowa’s incoming recruiting class.
Larson said he’s been told that Gesell should be ready to play in the PTL this summer. Gesell was slowed by a stress reaction in his right foot at the end of this past season.
The sophomore-to-be from South Sioux City, Neb., will have had more than two months to recover with PTL games scheduled to start June 20 at the North Liberty Community Center.
Larson drew the first pick last year and selected the 6-8 Uthoff, who attended Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School. Uthoff sat out this past season at Iowa after transferring from Wisconsin, where he was redshirted the previous season.
“In the past it varies somewhat with which Prime Time coach has the luck to win the first pick in the lottery because I might pick someone different than someone else would,” Larson said. “And last year was a good example of that.
“I knew Jarrod Uthoff, and I just wanted to be the one to kind of welcome him into the fold. I wasn’t saying he’s the best player. I was saying he’s the one I want because he’s team-oriented. He has many different skills sets. He plays different positions.”
The Iowa team’s depth will help to compensate for not having any Northern Iowa players in the PTL for the second year in a row. Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson decided last spring to withdraw his players from the PTL after the NCAA changed a rule that now allows college coaches to have more skill-related instruction time with their players over the summer.
“I understand that,” Larson said. “I think if you have four practices a week, plus individual skill sessions, plus conditioning, plus going to school, because they also go to school in the summer, otherwise they can’t use scholarship money to pay their room and board over the summer. So you now have effectively no off-season.”
Former Iowa players Matt Gatens and Jarryd Cole also might play in the PTL this summer if their schedules allow it. Gatens is nearing the end of his rookie season for a professional team in Spain, while Cole currently plays for a team in France and played in Iceland the previous season.
This marks the 27th season for the Prime Time League. Games will be played on Thursdays and Sundays until July 21. There is no cost for admission.
This also marks the 13th season for the Game Time League, which has five teams and features members of the Iowa women’s basketball team. The Game Time League will start June 19 and conclude July 24. The GTL play its games Wednesdays and one Monday, also at the North Liberty Community. One of the five teams will have a bye each week.
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.