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IOWA HAWKEYES PLAYER PREVIEWS: JARROD UTHOFF

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Time to relax your mind to the sweet, smooth sounds of Uthoff jazz.

Matthew Holst

Jarrod Uthoff

Bio: Junior, 6'9", 210 lbs. (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Last season: 18.2 minutes per game, 7.6 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, team-high 42.5% 3-point shooting (Basabe at 1-for-1 doesn't count)

What we saw last season: It took a little bit of the ol' Bo Ryan sturm und drang, but the wait was worth it to see Uthoff in the black and gold. Uthoff's first season of play saw him in a key sixth-man role, spelling either of the forwards and adding some badly needed offensive prowess to the second unit. His 7.6 points per game were fourth-best on the team (even with less than 20 minutes played per game) and his shooting was stellar: only 17 players were members of the 50-40-80 club in D-I college basketball last year, and Uthoff was the only player in the group to play in the defensively brilliant Big Ten.

And my goodness, can Uthoff shoot. He's lethal from close to NBA range, his mid-range game is strong and he's even got some low-post game. His stroke is quick and pure, and there isn't an ounce of wasted movement. I am not editing that sentence. He's a joy to watch shooting the ball, plain and simple.

In fact, if there's any criticism to be made of Uthoff's offense last year, it's that he picked his spots a little too judiciously; if he wasn't hoisting a shot right off the pass, Uthoff was generally a non-factor with the ball in his hands. You can appreciate Uthoff's unwillingness to hoist contested shots, but if a guy was in front of him it was as if a dialog box opened right above him that read [ERROR: basketball.exe has stopped responding] until he passed the ball out for a reset. When there's such an efficient shooter and his possession usage rate* is just 8th best on the team, below even Melsahn Basabe's, one's free to wonder whether said shooter is being assertive enough with the chances he's given.

Hell, if you don't want to talk "usage rate," here you go: Zach McCabe had more shot attempts last year than Uthoff. How you feeling about that? Feeling good?

*Advanced stats may make your eyes cross, I empathize, but this one's very straightforward. Via KenPom: "A measure of personal possessions used while the player is on the court. Simply assigns credit or blame to a player when his actions end a possession, either by making a shot, missing a shot that isn't rebounded by the offense, or committing a turnover."

What we need to see this season: It's a brand new season with a brand new look to the offense now that heavy-volume scorer Roy Devyn Marble is off to the NBA. Iowa's going to need a new primary scorer, especially since Aaron White is not that kind of player and Peter Jok is still unproven. ENTER THE UTHOFF.

Fran McCaffery is acutely aware of this new offensive vacuum, and he and Uthoff have both acknowledged last year's relative timidity as a relic of the 2013-14 season. Per KCRG:

At times I didn't take advantage of opportunities, especially on offense. I didn't want to take any bad shots, I didn't want to take any shots I wasn't comfortable with. I think this year I'll be much more aggressive coming in," said Uthoff.

Indeed, in that KCRG interview McCaffery described Uthoff as "completely different" from a confidence standpoint and said he's got "unbelievable expectations" for the forward. Sixty points a game! That'd be unbelievable.

Anyway, the biggest things we need out of Uthoff this season are volume and creation. If there's anyone Uthoff should be styling his game after this season, it's Kevin Durant—a super-long gunner who can put the ball on the floor and create a jumper or finish at the rim. Obviously Uthoff isn't the next NBA MVP or anything, but... he's not going up against the NBA every night either, y'know? He's enough of a problem for defenders that he's got to try to exploit them as often as possible. That's what Iowa needs.

Best case scenario: Jarrod Uthoff makes The Leap and blossoms into the instant offense machine the Hawkeyes desperately need. He becomes a fixture in the starting lineup and in Iowa's crunch-time units, providing the ability to get quality shots up with the clock running out that Iowa has missed for years. A handful of high-profile game-winning shots propel the Hawkeyes to a top-five finish in the Big Ten and afford Uthoff an outsized level of attention as he gains serious consideration for first-team All-Big Ten.

Most likely scenario: Assuming there's nothing Dom Uhl can do that Uthoff can't*, it's reasonable to expect 25+ minutes per game from Uthoff—more at the 3 than the 4, thanks to the ~30 minutes per game we should expect from White there. Uthoff's going to take more shots—if he doesn't, something has gone considerably awry—and if that results in a lower efficiency rate, ehh, so be it. McCaffery's an unabashed "take your shots when you have 'em" coach, so even if there's a 3-for-15 stinker lying in wait, it's not the end of the world. Again: it's the Big Ten. Bad things happen to good players in the Big Ten. It's full of blood and spiders.

So we'll peg Uthoff for a jump to 11 or 12 points per game, a nominal rise in rebounds in accordance with a 40-50% rise in minutes (his rebound rate will likely decline some as he's asked to push in transition more), and maybe two assists per game. The 50-40-80 rate will likely be too much to ask—if he keeps that up with a higher workload, look out—but he should still shoot well enough to warrant the largest offensive role on the team. Don't be surprised if he makes a run at the most minutes on the court as well.

*Other than "be less tired than Uthoff after Uthoff spends eight straight minutes in the game," I suppose. And there's some value to that, too.

One request: Make a run at 90% free throw shooting. It's not like we'll be upset at 85% or anything, but the more automatic Uthoff can be at the line, the more defenders will try to avoid the el cheapo calls—which could be just enough space to open up a quick jumper. Also, it makes Uthoff utterly indispensable on the court if Iowa's protecting a lead with under a minute to go.