So that happened: the 2016 NBA Draft took place last night and, against prevailing expectations, Jarrod Uthoff did NOT become the third straight Hawkeye senior standout to be drafted by an NBA team, joining Devyn Marble in 2014 and Aaron White in 2016. Sixty picks came and went but Uthoff was not one of them. There was a little talk that Uthoff could find himself drafted late in the first round, but a more likely scenario seemed to be him getting selected in the second round (same as Marble and White).
That said, per Hawk Central's Mark Emmert, Uthoff may have had that same opportunity -- and turned it down.
Uthoff's agent tells me Jarrod had a few chances to be picked and "stashed" last night but turned them down. Pursuing other NBA options now— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) June 24, 2016
"Draft and stash" refers to the practice of selecting a player without the intention of putting him on your existing NBA roster but instead retaining his rights while he plays for a team in the NBA D-League or a team overseas in Europe. That's more or less what happened to Marble (who has probably spent more time in the D-League than with the Orlando Magic over the last two years) and White (who spent the past season in Germany). Uthoff seems to be not interested in that approach -- it can be a very difficult way to make it into the NBA -- and instead wants an opportunity to make an NBA roster this year.
This was the latest news on Uthoff, from The Gazette's Scott Dochterman earlier today.
Jarrod Uthoff says he's still sifting through free agent offers and has not made a decision.— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) June 24, 2016
This was not a great draft for college players in general, though. A record-tying eight international players who never played college basketball were selected in the first round this year. College production wasn't a high priority, either -- National Player of the Year Denzel Valentine fell to Chicago at #14, ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon fell to Milwaukee at #36, and consistent college producers like North Carolina's Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige fell to the bottom of the first and second round, respectively. Purdue's A.J. Hammons may not be that much different, talent-wise, than Utah's Jakob Poeltl -- but Hammons had to wait 37 picks after Poeltl was drafted to finally be selected himself.
Not that any of this is new, of course -- the NBA fetishes athleticism and potential over virtually all else and has for some time. And there's no shortage of very good college players whose games simply don't translate to the NBA, where virtually every player is bigger, stronger, faster, and more skilled than what players see on a game-to-game basis in college, even in the best conferences.
That said, Uthoff's failure to get drafted does seem a little more surprising, given that his game seemed like it fit the current trends in the NBA so well. He's a very good shooter, with excellent range -- seemingly ideal for a league that's growing ever more comfortable with the 3-point shot. He also has good size and solid length and the basketball IQ to use those physical attributes effectively on defense -- he was an absolute terror on the perimeter in college. Granted, his game had some some holes, too -- he's never going to be the biggest guy, so the risk of him being overpowered in the paint is real. And one man's "positionally versatile" can be another man's "positionless tweener.
In the end, there wasn't an NBA team that fell in love with Uthoff enough to use a draft pick on him (or to draft him and give him a shot to make the roster, rather than stashing him away in the D-League or Europe) -- and that's all that matters. Hopefully Uthoff is able to find a free agent offer that works and is able to secure a spot on an NBA team next season.