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Prime Time preseason predictions

BY KYLE MANN | JUNE 18, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Prime Time League last season was likely near the highest quality product it has ever been, given that the Hawkeyes were an NCAA Tournament-caliber team, and also largely thanks to Northern Iowa making another Big Dance. 

Many of last season’s top performers are returning this summer — Jarrod Uthoff, Adam Woodbury, and Matt Bohannon competed for MVP honors last season — and there’s an interesting mix of newcomers and familiar faces that positions the Prime Time League to be even more exciting in its 29th year. 

With four freshmen and a junior-college transfer for Iowa, six newcomers for the Panthers, and the return of former Hawkeyes Matt Gatens and Melsahn Basabe, there will be more teams, more talent, and more competition. 

When all is said and done, here’s how I expect league action to play out:

Most Valuable Player: Adam Woodbury, C, Iowa

Woodbury stood out in the Prime Time League last summer and will nearly be on his own playing field this summer without Gabe Olaseni or Seth Tuttle to rival him physically. Uthoff will give him a run for his money, but as a legitimate Division-1 7-footer playing in a local Iowa summer league, this has to be his award to lose. 

Woodbury was second in the league in both scoring and rebounding, posting 24 and 12 per game last season on 60 percent shooting. He had also made obvious gains in the weight room, and the league will again offer him his best chance to show how dominant he can be in the post.

Fans have expected a lot from Woodbury since his commitment as a four-star recruit over the likes of North Carolina, and if all goes as planned, the senior-to-be could finally be as dominant of a physical presence as the Prime Time has ever seen. 

Preseason All-Prime Time Team

G: Wes Washpun, Northern Iowa

Washpun is what you would call a “stand-out athlete,” and his elite quickness and explosive leaping ability are the sorts of things that go a long way in dominating summer league basketball. Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons are both well-rounded guards, but neither have a distinct elite ability that projects to separate them from the pack. 

When the rubber hits the road, Washpun will have his team moving fast and smooth, and he will be the best lead guard in the league. 

G: Peter Jok, Iowa

This is actually a tough pick over Northern Iowa’s Bohannon. Bohannon torched the league last season, leading it in scoring. However, Jok had found his stroke by the end of the summer and was scoring in bunches. He’s slightly more gifted as a ball handler and as an athlete, so overall I think Jok takes a step forward this summer and is one of the better scorers around. 

F: Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa

Uthoff is the reigning MVP, and hewill likely post numbers around 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. His combination of length, shooting ability, and rebounding prowess, as well as being a disruptive defender, makes him an easy choice. And he’s very much a contender for MVP. 

F: Dale Jones, Iowa

Here’s my dark horse. Iowa fans don’t know him yet, but he’s 6-8, a gifted athlete, and shot 45-percent from beyond the arc at Tyler Junior College (Tyler, Texas) last season. He’ll become a focal point of his team’s offense and will be among the best highlight producers in the league. 

By the end of the summer, Hawkeye fans will be very excited about Dale Jones. 

C: Adam Woodbury, Iowa

He’s a big boy. See above. 

Champion: Kevin Sanders

Sanders will sport a front court of Dale Jones and Melsahn Basabe, with Paul Jesperson and Brandon Hutton on the wing, and ex-Iowa point guard Jason Price running the show. 

All except Price are 6-6 or above and gifted-to-special athletes, and Jesperson and Jones will be consistently dangerous shooting threats. Price’s headiness as a distributor and leader cannot be understated. When the playoffs roll around, this is simply a team to win when it matters. 

Follow @KyleFMann for news, updates, and analysis for Prime Time League basketball.


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