Nicknames fill Iowa basketball roster

BY BEN ROSS | OCTOBER 29, 2013 5:00 AM

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Earlier in the fall, some players from the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets were informed that they might wear some special jerseys for one or more of their four matchups against each other during the 2013-14 NBA regular season. It’s likely that instead of having their jerseys read their last names as usual, a player’s nickname may appear instead.

This idea has met with mixed reviews, but for the most part, players seem receptive to having their nicknames appear on the back of their jerseys for a game.

This concept would likely never happen at the college level, but still, it’s fun to talk about. The Daily Iowan caught up with each member of the Iowa men’s basketball team to see if they would be willing to have their nicknames appear on their jerseys for a game and what those nicknames would be.

No. 34 Adam Woodbury: Woody: “I wouldn’t have a problem with it at all. Most the guys around here don’t even know my first name, they call me Woody, so I wouldn’t have a problem. Since I was a little kid, that’s all anybody has ever called me.”

No. 13 Kyle Denning: IG: “I guess they call me Ig. It’s a long story; it’s kind of a personal nickname. I’d be open to that; it’d be something cool.”

No. 23 Okey Ukah: OK: My nickname has basically become my first name, so I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Coaches have found it helpful; I go by just OK on the court.”

No. 35 Darius Stokes: Stokes: “I don’t really have a nickname, it’s just Stokes. That’s fine.”

No. 42 Kyle Meyer: Franchise: I’ve had it since high school, and I told someone here, and everyone else got on it. In high school, I was the only one to get a D-1 scholarship to begin with, so everyone just called me, ‘Hey, he’s the franchise.’ I wouldn’t mind it; it would be funny for a game or something.”

No. 3 Peter Jok: Jok City: I think my last name is good; I don’t know why anybody would want to put their nickname on the back. People call me Jok City for some reason — I just want my last name there; everybody’s last name is good. Senior year in high school, they call me that for some reason. When I was a senior it was cool, but now everyone is calling me Jok City.”

No. 20 Jarrod Uthoff: U: “I don’t know, that’s a tough one. I have about 10 different nicknames, U, J.U., That’d be fine with me. In high school, some people called me U, but it’s mainly an Iowa thing.”

No. 10 Mike Gesell: Money Mike: “I don’t really have a prevalent nickname. Coach Fran says he calls me MMG — money Mike Gesell — I’d say that’s the only nickname I really have. I think it would be fun, it would be cool for the fans, something different. It would be pretty funny; I think, it would be a pretty cool experience.”

No. 5 Anthony Clemmons: Sapp: Yeah, that’s stuck with me since I was like 7 or 8 years old. If I could ever get that opportunity to wear it, I would love it. A lot of people don’t know my real name, to be honest.

“The first football scrimmage, I had five sacks in a row. Our coach brought me to the sidelines and asked if I know who Warren Sapp is. He said, ‘We’re going to call you Baby Sapp.’ In high school, I had a growth spurt, and the name Sapp stuck.”

No. 0 Gabe Olaseni: Gabe:That would be cool if I had a nickname. I guess they could put Gabe on the back, but that wouldn’t really be effective. It would be cool; it would be a lot of fun.”

No. 15 Zach McCabe: Z: “I mean, my nickname is just one letter; it would be Z. I don’t know if I like that, it would just be one letter, some of these guys don’t even have nicknames. I think it’s cool the NBA does it, because those guys have nicknames.”

No. 2 Josh Oglesby: J.O.: I have never really thought about it like that. I think it would be cool for the NBA to do it to see the crazy nicknames they have and stuff like that. In college, not too many guys have nicknames. It would be fun, but I could see people see it as something stupid. I wouldn’t mind it [having J.O. on the back of my jersey].”

No. 30 Aaron White: Whitey: All you have to do is add a Y. So yeah, I don’t think I’d like that. I think it makes the game too individualized when basketball is such a team sport and such a five-on-five sport that I think once you start putting nicknames on. And what if doesn’t a guy have a nickname?”

No. 1 Melsahn Basabe: Black Amigo: My Instagram name is Melly José, that originated through, basically, my father’s Puerto Rican. So I kind of like made up a little of my African-American side and my Spanish side, and that turned into the Black Amigo from Melly José. You could put up Melly José, people know me as that. Either Black Amigo or just Jose, with an accent on the E. José.”

No. 4 Devyn Marble: To Be Determined TBD: “I think that’s stupid. That’s what I think that is. Actually, no I don’t think it’s stupid. I’ll say this: I don’t think it’s stupid, I think … what if some of those guys don’t have nicknames? I don’t know what I would put on my jersey if I had to put a nickname. The one thing about the Nets and Heat is a lot of those guys do have nicknames. You got the Truth, the Ticket, KG, D Wade, King James, Flash, Shuttlesworth. That’s the best game if you are going to do it. I have absolutely no clue what I would put on the back of my jersey.”

But when pressed, Marble did concede he wouldn't mind putting a surname on the back of his jersey different from his normal one.

“I definitely wouldn’t put Dev,” Marble said. “I would have to come up with something creative just for that game. It would be nice, it would be a crispy nickname, you all would remember it, I’ll tell you that. The only thing I could come up with right now is money, and that’s not that creative. I would come up with something way better than that.”

No. 23 Fran McCaffery: White Magic: I would either go with their God-given name, or no name at all. I don’t mind having their names on the back of their jerseys. Last year I wanted to put ‘Street’ on their jerseys, and we weren’t allowed to do that. I’m going to tell you right now, there’s no way the NCAA will ever allow nicknames. It’s fun to talk about, but it will never happen. They’re very strict about that kind of stuff, uniforms, what goes on there. It was explained to me very thoroughly so I understand it.

“I had White Magic on my shoes. I had a pair of shoes that were specially made for me and had that on there, that was pretty cool. I think if you asked the players they would like it. Not all of them have good nicknames. We don’t have a big nickname team.”

As McCaffery said, it’s highly unlikely that NCAA will ever allow nicknames to appear on the back of jerseys, as Iowa attempted to honor former Hawkeye basketball player Chris Street on the 20th anniversary of his death last year.

Still, it’s fun to talk about, and ponder what kind of “crispy nickname” Marble would put on the back of his jersey.

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