Point/Counterpoint: Who should have won the Newcomer of the Year award?

BY DI STAFF | MAY 13, 2014 5:00 AM

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Jarrod Uthoff

It was a couple years in the making, but Cedar Rapids native Jarrod Uthoff was able to don the black and gold in the 2013-14 season, and he provided much excitement.

Finally able to play for the Hawkeyes after a tumultuous transfer from Wisconsin, the 6-9 sophomore gave coach Fran McCaffery a talented and stable scorer off the bench.

Uthoff was fifth on the team in minutes per game at 18 and scored 7.6 points per game on a respectable 50 percent shooting from the field. He also grabbed 4.6 rebounds per game and led the team in 3-point percentage, knocking down 43 percent of his attempts, as well as free throw percentage at 82 percent.

At 6-9, Uthoff has respectable size on the wing. Paired with his smooth athleticism and gargantuan wingspan, he found himself behind only Gabe Olaseni in blocks per game , swatting away 35 shots in just 33 games, many of which were sent back in the face of jump shooters outside the paint.

McCaffery had to tighten the rotation later in the year, and Uthoff’s still respectable numbers dipped as a result. In games played in the 2013 half of the season, he averaged 10.9 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 1.4 blocks per game, with 57 percent shooting and a frightening 53 percent from beyond the arc.

He also had what was likely the most impressive dunk of Iowa’s season when he went baseline to throw (literally) down a very Blake Griffin-esque tomahawk against Penn on Nov. 22, 2013. It’s worth a Google.

Uthoff’s inaugural season for the Hawkeyes was individually successful, and as a candidate to start in the 2014-15 campaign, he will try take the next step and become one of the premier wing scorers in the Big Ten.

— Kyle Mann

Desmond King

Nobody, not even Kirk Ferentz himself, knew what he’d be getting when Desmond King stepped onto the field to replace the injured Jordan Lomax.

Nobody knew that King would become an immediate impact player, a physical corner who was thrown to the wolves but became the wolf.

Nobody knew that King, just a freshman this past season, would not only be able to hang with some of the Big Ten’s best receivers but effectively shut them down.

Nobody knew any of that coming into this year’s football season. Hell, the media weren’t even allowed to ask him about it because he was just a freshman — but we watched him blossom into the next great Iowa defensive back.

Is that too much? Perhaps. But I’m pretty confident in saying that right now.

I’ll end with this: Think back to the Outback Bowl, in which both King and B.J. Lowery were tasked with shutting down two elite wide receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry — both of whom, by the way, were drafted this past weekend and will soon be making millions.

Numerous times during the broadcast, Jon Gruden praised King’s play because Beckham and Landry couldn’t get open. King had them cloaked nearly all game and forced LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings into awkward passes that didn’t end up anywhere near his receivers — mostly because he didn’t want King to intercept them.

Shutting down future NFL receivers? As a true freshman? What more do you need?

— by Cody Goodwin

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