Bio: Sophomore, 6’9", 215 lb. (Frankfurt, Germany)
Last season:2.1 pts/g, 1.8 reb./g, 36% FG pct., 10 min./g
What we saw last season:
Honestly, not much. The wiry German forward provided a few spot minutes of defense every game, but rarely saw more than five minutes on the court in a game of any significance. Uhl was skinny last year – like, baby faun, Corey Brewer-level skinny – and his offensive game was unrefined. He took threes, but didn’t make very many of them (19% on 27 attempts), and he turned the ball over a lot (22% turnover percentage, worst on the team for any regular player). By the end of the season, he was clearly not in Fran McCaffery’s circle of trust, garnering a total of nine minutes of playing time in Iowa’s two tournament games.
On the positive side, Uhl did show one big reason Iowa recruited him to play here: defense. In spite of his rail-thin physique, Uhl’s long arms and quick feet gave him the ability to harass players on the perimeter, deny the ball into the post, and to contest long-range shots. Fran McCaffery has a type, and Uhl may be the archetype of that type: a long-armed, 6’8"-ish guy with the quickness and size to guard 1 to 5. Also, Uhl had one indisputably great play last season, where he went all Dr. J against Ohio State, curling under the basket for a beautiful reverse layup.
What we need to see this season:
According to McCaffery, the final starting spot is down to Anthony Clemmons or Uhl, so obviously a lot more will be expected of him this season. The word is that Uhl has bulked up considerably over the offseason, going from 185 lb. to 215 lb., and with that increased size should come a more prominent role as a post defender. There has even been some discussion of Uhl backing up Woodbury at the five, which sounds crazy, but might just be the best of Iowa’s bad options. It’s either Uhl or true freshman Ahmad Wagner (all 6’7" of him) or transfer Dale Jones (also 6’7", and not really known as a defender). If I had to guess, Uhl probably winds up playing backup forward/center in small ball lineups out of sheer necessity. And if that’s the case, what we need to see from him shrinks to a very small circle of tasks: defending the post long enough for Adam Woodbury to get some rest, and rebounding the ball.
That’s really it. It would be nice if Uhl got his offensive game together over the offseason and became another scoring option, but given the lineup as it exists, that’s not where his talents are needed. Iowa lost two supremely valuable Swiss Army knife players in Aaron White and Gabe Olaseni, and no one on the team is better positioned to take up their mantle than Uhl. Iowa is losing over 12 rebounds and 2 blocks a game now that White and Olaseni are gone, and look to be a much less imposing rebounding team. Hopefully a stronger Uhl can step use his size and quickness to hunt down rebounds like those players did.
Best case scenario:
Things click for Uhl and he blossoms into the kind of versatile two-way player that White was. Uhl showed some flashes of ability with the ball in his hands, and if he could become the type of player that rebounds the ball and starts the fast break all by himself, Iowa’s second unit would be a much more dangerous offensive team.
Most likely scenario:
Uhl’s defense and defensive versatility are simply too good to keep him off the court. Any team that has Peter Jok in the lineup needs someone to cover up defensive lapses, and Uhl can fill that role. Iowa may have to play some unconventional lineups to defend opposing big men, and Uhl has the versatility to make those schemes work. In short, he will make a difference on defense. He may not score much or take many outside shots, but he will do an admirable job of taking over the coveralls from Aaron White as Iowa’s garbage man-in-chief.