Jarrod Uthoff participated in the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last weekend with several other prospects (although most of the lottery-bound prospects sat out most of the activities at the Combine, if they attended at all) -- so how'd he do?
Jarrod Uthoff particulars: 6-9 3/4 (shoes); 6-8 1/2 (no shoes); 214.2 pounds; 6% body fat; 6-11 1/2 wingspan; Standing reach: 8-8— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) May 12, 2016
Physically, Uthoff was fine, although not particularly remarkable in any category. His standing reach and wingspan figures appear solid for a player his size, but not outstanding. Purdue's Caleb Swanigan, for instance, is listed as two inches shorter than Uthoff, but has a greater standing reach (8-11 versus 8-8) and a longer wingspan (7-3 1/2 versus 6-11 1/2). Providence's Ben Bentil, who got very favorable reviews at the Combine, is listed at 6-8 1/4, but also had a slightly greater standing reach (8-9) and wingspan (7-1 1/2) than Uthoff.
But Uthoff was never likely to wow scouts in socks or just with his physical attributes. How'd he do in games? Per The Gazette's Scott Dochterman, he struggled with his shot on Thursday:
Nobody on Uthoff's squad had a decent day in a 109-69 shellacking. That included Maryland point guard Melo Trimble, Wichita State shooter Ron Baker and NCAA tournament hero Josh Hart of Villanova. Uthoff finished 3 of 12 from the floor with eight points and four rebounds. He did deliver a powerful two-handed slam with 2:25 left and followed with a jumper one possession later.
He made some all-around contributions in a game on Friday against Iowa State's Georges Niang:
Uthoff, a 6-foot-10 Iowa forward, scored seven points on 3-of-6 shooting, grabbed four boards and dished three assists in 21 minutes, 18 seconds. Niang, a 6-foot-8 Iowa State forward, finished with 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. He added five rebounds and an assist but also had six turnovers in 23:28.
Overall, though, Uthoff didn't light it up in either performance. In fact, DraftExpress put him on a Worst NBA Combine Performers list. Ouch. They don't have him on their most recent mock draft at all and he checks in at #61 on their Top 100 Prospects list. ESPN is more bullish on him, placing him at #31 on their own Top 100 Prospects list ($) and just outside the Top 30 on Chad Ford's most recent Big Board ($).
Ultimately, Uthoff's ability to get into the NBA -- and stick there -- are likely to revolve around his ability to shoot and his ability to defend. Can he shoot from distance well enough to help space the floor for a team? And can he play good enough defense to be a net-positive on that end of the floor? He's not going to be a starter or immediate impact player for an NBA team -- Uthoff readily admits that himself -- but he can he a valuable rotation guy if he can do those things at a high level. Dochterman put together a nice collection of quasi-scouting reports on Uthoff, with comments from ESPN's Fran Fraschilla, Purdue's Matt Painter, and Fran McCaffery and Fraschilla's comments in particular seem to sum up Uthoff:
"With Jarrod it's about the confidence. When he plays confidently, there's a lot of things about his game that translate to the NBA. His size and length, his ability to defend, which is very underrated, and his ability to make deep shots. The fact that he's an unsung, unselfish player helps him, but there's also times when he's got to be really, really aggressive. I think that's a big thing.
Confidence definitely seemed to be an issue at times for Uthoff, although the NBA could be a benefit in that regard, since unlike Iowa last year, an NBA team won't be relying on Uthoff to be their star player and to carry so much of the load on offense and defense. He'll have a much smaller, more clearly defined role on an NBA team and he'll likely just need to focus on excelling at a few skills. Hopefully Uthoff is drafted by a team that fits his skill set.
Meanwhile, what about Iowa's other NBA Draft prospect, Peter Jok? He wasn't invited to the NBA Draft Combine, which is a pretty clear sign that he's not likely to hear his name called in the two rounds of the NBA Draft. Jok hasn't removed his name from consideration yet -- he has until next Thursday, May 25, to do so -- but that still seems to be the most likely outcome for this process. Fran clarified his role in Jok's decision-making process in another article with Dochterman:
McCaffery has spoken with NBA teams as well. He regularly communicates with Jok, whom he expects to make a decision near the deadline. Ultimately, the final decision rests with Jok.
"I think you have to be as transparent as possible in terms of what benefits him," McCaffery said Tuesday at Big Ten meetings. "I don't want him to think for one second that I only want him to stay. Sure I want Peter Jok on my team. Of course I do. Everybody knows that. But I want him to be in the best possible position he can be for his future. I told him that when I recruited him, and I don't want to change it now.
"So if it's in his best interest to go, he should go. If it's in his best interest to stay, then he should stay. That decision will be made based on the information that he has. He'll make it, along with his brother and his guardian. I won't be a part of that decision. But I'll be part of the information process."
In that same article, McCaffery and other Big Ten coaches praised the rule and thought it was an overall benefit to student-athletes considering their NBA chances, even if it did make their own jobs more challenging. (Notable contrarian: Tom Izzo, who's worried about players getting their feeling hurt by putting themselves in consideration for the NBA Draft but then not getting an invitation to the Combine.) In general, the rule change does seem to be a good thing for the players -- giving them an opportunity to get an honest assessment of their skills and their likelihood of going in the NBA Draft gives them a better idea of whether or not they really should go pro or stay in school -- and even helps them identify areas of their game that need improvement, which could further benefit them (and their college team) when/if they return to school.
We'll update when Peter Jok has made a decision about returning to Iowa or staying in the NBA Draft.