If Iowa wants to make the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season (a feat not accomplished by the men in black and gold since 1991-93), it will need a monster season from rising senior Jarrod Uthoff. Fortunately, Uthoff seems to be up to the task, and the outside basketball world has evidently taken notice.
This is the first year of the Nike Basketball Academy, so it's totally fine if you've never heard of it, but this is a pretty big deal. Nike stars LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis (guys who know a little bit about basketball) are expected to be counselors at the camp, and though LeBron has run camps in the past, it's usually been for about 100 ball players and not, y'know... 20.
What comprises the "top 20 collegiate ballers" is obviously up for debate and there's no single right answer. Given that NBA players are running the show, one might think this is about honing NBA-level skills, and Uthoff has looked like a pro-in-waiting on the court for Iowa at times. He's 6'9" (listed, anyway) with a lethal jump shot, can run the floor and finish in the open court, and he is as disruptive to perimeter jump shots as any defender Iowa has had in decades.
And yet you won't find Uthoff's name on 2016 mock drafts at DraftExpress and NBADraft.net, or anywhere else that peddles mocks this far out. So it's not as if Nike's just front-running on hyped pro prospects here. But it would be very cool if someone from Nike or one of the camp mentors comes out and says "we invited Jarrod Uthoff and think he is one of the best 20 college players because [X], [Y] and [Z]," you know?
Indeed, if you could pick one NBA player with a similar skill set, it'd probably be Durant. Of course, Durant's three inches taller and a more accurate shooter than Uthoff, and we're not suggesting Uthoff will reach Durant's overall skill level. But if there's anyone you'd want advising Uthoff on how to maximize efficiency and effectiveness from skills like those, it'd have to be Durant.
So with this, Iowa men's basketball has now boasted Orlando Magic draft pick Devyn Marble, World University Games Team USA member (and potential NBA draft pick) Aaron White and now Nike Skills Academy invitee Jarrod Uthoff. How cool is that?