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Prime Time League is back

BY DOMINICK WHITE | JUNE 21, 2013 5:00 AM

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The first contest of the Prime Time opening day featured Mike Gesell’s team against Aaron White’s squad. White was selected first in the draft by head coach Ron Nove, and it didn’t take long for the Hawkeye forward to establish himself as the best player on the court.

White got off to a scorching hot start by scoring 10 points in the first six minutes of action. The Hawkeye junior-to-be emphatically threw down fast-break dunks that brought the crowd members to their feet. White was in attack mode from the start and led his team to an early 9-point lead.

“I love playing in this league; it’s a lot of fun,” White said. “I play with the same mindset; run up and down the floor, play hard, and use my athleticism to try to dominate the game.”

But Gesell and his teammates quickly answered. Iowa’s starting point guard looked healthy after a nagging foot injury plagued him at the end of the regular season; he smoothly ran the offense, feeding the ball to former Hawkeye big man Okey Ukah and an array of shooters. Hot shooting and opportune transition offense helped coach Dan Ahrens’ team cut the deficit to 3, and they went halftime trailing 50-47.

Gesell’s and Company maintained their late first-half momentum when they swiftly turned a first-half deficit into a second-half lead, team pulling away in final five minutes to secure a 104-96 victory. The South Sioux City, Neb., native scored 28 points on 13-of-21 shooting to go along with 11 assists and 6 rebounds. White finished with 29 points and 14 rebounds.

“It’s tough playing in a first game like that with all new guys,” Gesell said. “They were killing us on the boards in the first half. We just started rebounding and playing better defense in the second half.”

The second contest was a matchup between Devyn Marble and Gabe Olaseni’s teams. Marble looked dominant at times, putting on a show for the fans with 29 points while tallying 6 rebounds and 5 assists — his 29 points led all scorers.

Olaseni’s squad came out on top, though, with a 104-92 victory.

The night’s final game highlighted an intriguing matchup between the newest additions to the Hawkeye program. Peter Jok, Iowa’s 2013 Mr. Basketball, squared off against Jared Uthoff, Iowa’s Mr. Basketball in 2011 — who was still recognized despite the misspelled last name of the back of his jersey.

The two Hawkeye newcomers lit up the scoreboard. Uthoff revealed a multifaceted skillset by being able to get to the rim in addition to utilizing his jump shot. He was also a defensive pest en route to posting a double-double with a 26-point, 10-rebound performance.

Jok showcased his deceptive athletic ability in transition and an unconscious shooting ability by draining NBA range 3-point shots. The incoming freshman finished with 35 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the field in his Prime Time League début.

“I felt good out there; I still have to get in shape, but it’s good competition,” Jok said. “Everyone was playing his hardest against us because we’re Iowa players.”

Prime Time action will resume June 23 in the North Liberty Community Center. The first game starts at 3 p.m., when Marble’s team faces off against Jok and Company. The other scheduled contests will be played at 4:30 p.m.

Marble and White were hesitant about participating in Sunday’s games with the World University Games men’s basketball training camp looming next week.

“I haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to play on Sunday,” Marble said. “I have to see how my body feels. Playing a full game like I did today is beneficial, but at the same time, I got to have my legs, too.”


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