When their prep basketball careers ended just days apart at the 2011 state tournament, Iowa basketball players Okey Ukah and Jarrod Uthoff had no idea they would end up teammates.
At the time, neither knew they would attend Iowa and the duo certainly didn’t think they would have to wait two full seasons before playing in another game.
Fast forward better to Iowa’s media day Wednesday and that’s exactly the situation Ukah and Uthoff find themselves in.
“It’s been quite a journey,” Ukah said with a laugh.
Ukah, a walk-on from West High, and Uthoff, a Cedar Rapids Jefferson graduate, both find themselves in the unique situation of coming off consecutive seasons in which they were forced to sit out.
A second-team all-state pick as a senior at West, Ukah spent the 2011-2012 season at Kirkwood Community College as a redshirt before walking on at Iowa last year.
Originally, Ukah said he planned to participate as a walk-on for the Hawkeyes last season, but the NCAA deemed he must sit out under transfer rules.
Uthoff, a three-star recruit who was named Iowa’s Mr. Basketball in 2011, endured a similar, though more high-profile journey to Iowa.
The 6-foot-9 Uthoff committed to Wisconsin before his senior season and spent the 2011-2012 season as a redshirt for the Badgers.
After that season at Wisconsin, Uthoff elected to transfer to Iowa last year and was forced to sit out again due to NCAA transfer rules.
“Words can’t really describe how hard it was to sit on the sideline for a couple of years and watch my team play when I couldn’t do anything,” Uthoff said. “I’m just looking forward to putting that behind me and getting out there and playing.”
Each facing the same difficult task of sitting out for the second straight season, Uthoff and Ukah quickly forged a friendship when they arrived on campus.
The two are roommates and bonded last season over the idea of eventually getting back on the court.
“We’ve really helped each other get through the past couple of years,” Ukah said. “It’s been two years since we have played in a regulation game so we are both very excited to get back into the swing of things.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball