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Big-time basketball debut is finally here for Jarrod Uthoff

[ 0 ] November 7, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Jarrod Uthoff has spent the past two seasons glued to the bench.

And it has nothing to do with his ability on the basketball floor.

“It’s not easy sitting on the sidelines,” Uthoff said. “But you get used to it.”

Iowa’s Mr. Basketball in 2011 as a senior at Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Uthoff listened to new Iowa coach Fran McCaffery’s sales pitch but decided to sign with Wisconsin.

Uthoff left the Badgers after the 2011-12 season and ended up at Iowa on the rebound. After sitting out the 2012-13 season because of NCAA transfer rules, Uthoff finally gets to play in his first college game Friday when Iowa opens the season at 8:30 p.m. against North Carolina-Wilmington at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa's Jarrod Uthoff drives the lane during the Hawkeyes game against Augustana on Sunday, November 3, 2013. (Benjamin Roberts / Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff drives the lane during the Hawkeyes game against Augustana on Sunday, November 3, 2013. (Benjamin Roberts / Iowa City Press-Citizen)

“My whole game is better,” the 20-year-old rookie said of his two-year hoops hiatus. “I’ve put on some weight. I’ve gotten a lot stronger. My handle has improved. My ability to create my own shot has definitely improved.”

McCaffery expects Uthoff to be a vital part of his rotation, once he gets into the flow of the game again.

McCaffery’s advice to the 6-foot-9 sophomore forward? Just go play.

“Don’t be trying to make it a game of perfect,” McCaffery said.

Uthoff played tentative in Sunday’s exhibition game with Augustana of Illinois. McCaffey thought Uthoff would be fine once he trusts his talent.

“He’s got really good instincts on how to play, and he can really score,” McCaffery said.

Uthoff is thankful for his second-chance opportunity to play for McCaffery and Iowa.

“It’s unreal how it worked out,” Uthoff said. “But I’m very fortunate, and I couldn’t be happier here.”

Uthoff felt Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan’s successful-but-structured system didn’t fit him after practicing it for a season. He said his versatility is better suited to McCaffery’s up-tempo style of play.

“Just having that freedom to make plays, and having the freedom just to go out there and play, especially when you’re running open motion and spread the court and attack, is something that is going to be huge for me,” Uthoff said.

Huge, too, is playing again after two long seasons on the pine. Now it’s just a matter of playing aggressively, looking for his shot and getting in the flow of the game.

“Being versatile is huge in this offense, playing different positions and being able to exploit the defense when you can,” Uthoff said. “And that’s something I think I can do.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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