Commentary: Three takeaways from the 2014 Prime Time League

BY KYLE MANN | AUGUST 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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Takeaway One: Jarrod Uthoff is on the verge of breaking out

The 6-8 swingman made an impression in his first year as Hawkeye, primarily as a guy who could come in, play smart, and make open shots. If he goes into the regular season looking as he did in the Prime Time League, however, he’ll make a name for himself as one of the best scorers in the Big Ten.

Uthoff finished second in the league in scoring at 25 points per game and showed a wide array of ways to hurt a defense.

Iowa fans know he’s a good shooter, so his 30-percent clip from outside the arc in Prime Time shouldn’t be too worrisome. What should catch their attention is what he did from inside the arc.

Uthoff looked significantly more aggressive attacking the basket, and he acknowledged that he has made it a point to not be as “timid” as he was at times last season.

He shot 54 percent on 2-pointers and incorporated a deadly midrange game that will keep defenders guessing at all times. He even showed a Dirk Nowitzki-esque turnaround fade that could be a signature “can’t stop it” move for the long, lanky forward.

Uthoff was also second in the league in rebounding, only 2 behind Adam Woodbury for the lead.

Uthoff appears skilled and prepared physically to sneak up on college basketball fans in a big way in 2014.

Takeaway Two: Adam Woodbury is reaching his potential

It’s one thing to just be the biggest guy on the court. It’s another to actually be able to make basketball plays at a high level, and Woodbury looks like a player who is making that transition.

As mentioned, Woodbury led the league in rebounding, which is expected from a 7-1 center. It was more than that, though. Woodbury dominated the paint, and thanks to some added weight and muscle, the big man said he feels noticeably stronger than he did a year ago.

Physically, however, most Hawkeye fans knew that Woodbury would be a handful. What will take the 7-footer to the next level is the progression he seems to have made at putting the ball in the hoop.

Woodbury routinely used his big body to create space in the post and converted on 60 percent of his 2-point shots. Furthermore, while many Hawk fans expect to see some of Gabe Olaseni at the power forward spot, Woodbury is the one who appears to have made the biggest strides in terms of stretching his range.

Woodbury made numerous set shots per week from the elbow or several feet out on the baseline, and he said he felt more and more confident taking shots away from the basket as the summer went on. By the final weeks of the season and into the playoffs, it was firmly established that defenders couldn’t simply leave him open.

He’s always been a behemoth, but now Woodbury is taking the form of a truly skilled big man who will also run the floor and make hustle plays for his team.

Takeaway Three: Northern Iowa has a lot of talent

First things first: Matt Bohannon torched Prime Time all summer long. Bohannon was the league’s leading scorer at 28 points per game, and his 46 percent shooting from distance went from surprising to incredible to convincing. Bohannon can make shots.

Starting point guard Deon Mitchell had a good summer with 16 points and 6 assists per game, 6-7 guard Jeremy Morgan showed a knack for creating space to get off his silky-smooth jumper, and Wes Washpun and Wyatt Lohaus offer great, capable depth at point guard.

Northern Iowa lacks any one huge player in the paint, but 6-8 and 240-pound Seth Tuttle demonstrated both the physicality and the know-how to grab attention. After Tuttle, Bennett Koch, Marvin Singleton, and Paul Jesperson all provide versatile and smart production.

The Panthers are immensely talented, and all summer long, they stressed that they are focused on “playing the right way.” If that team comes together this year, Northern Iowa could be on its way to a Cinderella season.

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