Bio: Senior, 6'9", 221 lbs. (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Last season: 30.3 minutes per game, 12.4 points per game, 37.2% 3-point FG%, 6.2% block rate (134th in the nation)
What we saw last season: Mr. Uthoff took a big step forward in his redshirt junior year. He went from being the guy with huge potential coming off the bench to being the second most talented player on the team. Along with that change in roles, Uthoff also saw a change in positions. Instead of switching back and forth between the small forward and power forward position, he transitioned into a full-time perimeter guy last year. And the change was evident in the type of shots he took:
As a junior, Uthoff took a big step forward by doing one simple thing: shooting more three-pointers. Uthoff brought a lot of value to the 2014-2015 squad, but perhaps none was more important than his increased focus on the three ball. On a team that struggled with success from downtown, Uthoff's 37% on 145 attempts was much needed.
But, again, Uthoff is far from a one-dimensional player. On top of his lovely shooting stroke, he also cut his turnover rate down so low that Kenpom had him ranked 53rd in the country by the end of the season. And on the other side of the court, he continued to be one of the best defensive rebounders on the team and one of -- if not the -- best perimeter shot-blockers in the country. He was Iowa's Swiss army knife, in that he could do it all.
And that "all" included becoming Iowa's go-to guy at the end of the game. Uthoff not only single-handedly forced overtime and almost won that horrible game against Northwestern in Evanston, but he sealed the damn deal in The Barn.
And yeah, I think that's all you need to know about Uthoff last season.
What we need to see this season: The 2015-2016 Hawkeyes are now Jarrod Uthoff's team. The torch was passed from Devyn Marble to Aaron White, and now White has passed it on to Uthoff. For as much as I think the sentence "this team will go as far as he can take them" works for just about any player having a breakout year every season, I think this sentence means the most in Uthoff's case.
If you think about it, Uthoff has probably the best and most diverse skill set of any guy to grace this Iowa program in a long time. Devyn Marble was great, but he wasn't a lights out shooter. Aaron White is probably my favorite Iowa player ever, but even he had his weaknesses when he was away from the basket. Rather, it is Uthoff who not only has the height to post smaller defenders up, but he also possesses the handles to drive the ball to the rim too. And don't forget that he's a career 38% shooter from beyond the arc. And none of that even mentions his many talents in other areas of the game.
But if there is one thing I would really like him to do this season, it would be to maximize his shot efficiency. As I showed in the shot chart above, Uthoff was more perimeter-oriented as a junior. That paid off in the way of three-pointers, but it did take something away from his game in the fact that he traded some short twos for long twos. As a result, his offensive rating and his effective field goal percentage both dropped a bit from his sophomore year. Of course, some of that was to be expected with the increased number of shots he took. However, Uthoff has the ability to be one of the most efficient, high scoring players in the nation, and the best way to do that is to continue shooting threes, but to switch the emphasis from long jumpers to short jumpers.
We all saw what Iowa looked like when Aaron White put the team on his back last year. Uthoff also has the ability to carry Iowa like that. And that is the type of leadership we need to see from him this season: the ability to let absolutely nothing stop you when your team is struggling and needs you to score points.
Best case scenario: Uthoff gets more opportunities near the basket off of cuts and screens due to playing both forward positions on a much smaller team this season. He continues to shoot tons of threes, though, while still putting an emphasis on more efficient shots. Uthoff's new ultra-efficient ways lead him to average almost 20 points per game while boasting an effective field goal percentage north of 60% and an offensive rating in the top 10 in the nation. Uthoff takes the country by storm with not only his shooting and scoring abilities, but also with his abilities to use his longs arms to rebound, block shots, and steal the ball away from the opponent. His breakout senior season leads Iowa to a deep run in the NCAA Tournament and earns Uthoff National All-American and First Team All-Big Ten accolades. He then parlays that resume into a first round NBA Draft pick, and leaves Iowa as one of the best players to ever wear the Black and Gold.
Most likely scenario: With Aaron White graduating, Uthoff takes the reins and makes Iowa his team, averaging somewhere around 16 points per game and playing about 32 minutes per night. Uthoff continues to be primarily a catch and one or two dribble and shoot type of player, which leads to more threes (good), but also to more long twos (less good). But even with a shot selection that could be more efficient, Uthoff is still by far the best player on the team and one of the best players in the conference. The sheer number of points that he scores and his well known shooting prowess are good enough to land him on the Second Team All-Big Ten roster alone, but it's the other little things he does that get him recognized as Iowa's third straight senior in a row to make the First Team All-Big Ten. His continued growth -- along with the rest of the upperclassmen taking a step forward -- leads Iowa to another NCAA Tournament and Uthoff leaves Iowa City as Iowa's third straight NBA draft pick. He goes higher than White and Marble, but Uthoff is still a second round guy.
One request: More alley-oops:
Actually, just more high-percentage shots, in general. Seriously, Jarrod. We all know you can do it.