Kirkwood well represented in Prime Time League

BY KYLE MANN | JUNE 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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Last year, the Kirkwood men’s basketball team’s season ended in heartbreaking fashion — it was defeated in the final seconds by Iowa Lakes in the semifinals of the regional tournament. At 21-10, however, the Eagles improved their record from last season and are excited to continue developing as a team in the Prime Time League.

Neither the Iowa players nor the Northern Iowa players — who will rejoin Prime Time after a two-year hiatus — were present at tryouts on Sunday, but the Eagles sent a strong contingent that will provide a considerable presence throughout the summer.

Led by sophomore Joe Tagarelli, the Eagles will provide the league more young players who play competitively at a high level. The 6-5 Tagarelli is a tenacious rebounder and was awarded Division II first-team All-Region honors last year.

A skilled player, Tagarelli will try to use Prime Time to improve his game and become better-rounded and versatile weapon.

More than anything, he looks forward to soaking up the teaching and instruction he’ll receive in such a high-profile summer league.

Point guard Ajay Lawton accompanied Tagarelli at the tryout on Sunday, and he said Kirkwood head coach Bryan Petersen recommended that his players participate in the league. The 6-foot guard also received All-Region honors as an honorable mention, and he is eager to improve before a season in which he could garner attention from some Division-I schools.

In the meantime, Lawton said, playing with some of his potential competition is of great value.

“[I’m looking forward to] learning from D-1 players,” Lawton said. “Taking in what they tell us to do, learn it, experience it.”

Lawton will have good company this summer; he will be the lead guard with Hawkeye swingman Jarrod Uthoff and Northern Iowa’s Jeremy Morgan on his side for coach Dan Ahrens.

Also joining the veteran Eagles will be transfers Jordan Ashton and Ronald Singleton. For players preparing to play with a new team for the first time, Prime Time will give them more reps in a basketball environment to get a feel for each other.

The transfers were not drafted together, so other than watching and supporting each other, most of the development will be dependent on how each player approaches his summer and what he gets from the level of competition.

The Kirkwood presence and competition level is something Chike Ukah — brother of Hawkeye Okey Ukah — said will help the Eagles once the summer is over.

“During the summer in the league, it’s something [Petersen] wants us to experience and have an opportunity to get better in,” Ukah said. “I think it’s really going to help team chemistry and bring us all together. Spending as much time together as possible is going to help in the long run, and that’s what this is all about.”

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