MVP showdown in final week of Prime Time regular season

BY KYLE MANN | JULY 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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When Dan Ahrens’ team met Randy Larson’s last week in Waterloo, it was about as glamorous and star-studded of a matchup as there could be in the Prime Time League.

With several of the league’s top performers on the same court, the clash of Prime Time powers could be a case study for whom might win this summer’s MVP award.

Entering the final week of the regular season, Ahrens’ team was in first place at 3-0, thanks largely to having three of Prime Time’s most dangerous wing scorers. Northern Iowa’s Jeremy Morgan and State Fair’s Dondre Alexander both hover around 20 points per game, which makes it all the more impressive that Jarrod Uthoff has consistently been the best player on the floor for his team.

Uthoff finished his regular season strong, pouring in 25 points, many of which came in near the hoop against Hawkeye center Adam Woodbury. Uthoff also posted regular season highs with 6 assists and an incredible 19 rebounds, this season’s single-game record high.

The 6-8 swingman’s big night caps off a regular season in which he was the third leading scorer with 23 points per game, the leading rebounder at 14 per game, and his team’s assist leader with 4 per game.

“The key this summer was having great teammates,” Uthoff said. “I love playing with them. I feel way more comfortable out there with the ball in my hands, just trying to make things happen.”

Uthoff didn’t shoot as well from the outside as Hawkeye fans saw him capable of last season, but he was able to find buckets shooting 50 percent on 2-pointers because of a more developed game this summer.

“I’m feeling stronger,” Uthoff said. “And I’m incorporating stuff that I’ve worked on in the past in practice and want to do in games, like the Dirk [Nowitzki] shot and the step-back.”

Despite Uthoff’s stellar performance, Ahrens’ squad was upset for the first time this year by the likely other top two MVP candidates; Woodbury and Northern Iowa scoring guru Matt Bohannon.

Despite only scoring 12 points in the 98-76 upset, Bohannon finished the regular season as the league’s leading scorer.

With Hawkeye guard Anthony Clemmons missing time, Bohannon assumed a significant scoring role from the perimeter, and scored 28 points per game, including 33, 40, and 29 point games before Clemmons returned in full force. Bohannon shot 46 percent overall, 42 percent from 3-point land, as well as 82 percent at the free-throw line.

“I think I played pretty well in Prime Time,” Bohannon said. “I think I showed I’m not just a shooter, but I can do a little off the floor and get to the line as well. I had an opportunity to make some plays, so that’s what I tried to do.”

Larson’s team’s big win was fueled by Woodbury, who has looked like the most dominate big man this summer. His 22 points, 17 rebounds, and 4 assists were crucial in the upset and remained on par with his season averages.

Second behind only Bohannon, Woodbury scored 24 points per game on 60 percent shooting and was second behind only Uthoff with 12 rebounds per game. Woodbury has looked stronger and more confident operating in the post, and his numbers have reflected that.

“I’ve put on some weight and gotten stronger in my upper and lower body,” he said. “I’ve worked a lot on my stroke from midrange and at the free-throw line, so my game is getting better every day. I’ve just played my game, and the MVP would be nice, but I want to win the championship.”

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