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Prime Time's mystery man

BY KYLE MANN | JULY 09, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Prime Time League, from one perspective, is primarily a chance for Hawkeye fans in the local area to get a preview for the coming season. Northern Iowa players have joined in on the past two years, but Kendall Jacks of Wayne State is proving to be the league’s man of mystery.

Jacks, a 6-3 guard who played high-school ball at Bettendorf High, teams up with Hawkeye Adam Woodbury for the Armstrong Team, and he has played a crucial role in the team’s 3-1 record entering today’s game at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex in Waterloo.

After starting 28 of 29 games for Wayne State as a freshman and averaging 8 points and 4 rebounds, Jacks is distinguishing himself as one of the more well-rounded and efficient guards in the summer league.

Jacks averages 15 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Most impressively, and why he fits so well on his team, is that his points come primarily on open, smart shots rather than from volume. He is shooting 55 percent from the floor, 43 percent from beyond the arc.

Armstrong coach Dan Ahrens has two Iowa players on his roster in Woodbury and Okey Ukah, two Northern Iowa players, including Prime Time leading scorer Dondre Alexander, yet he knew he got a steal in the draft with Jacks.

“He’s a total athlete,” Ahrens said. “He can shoot, he can drive, he can play defense; he was the best player at the tryout without a doubt.”

With the physically out-of-position Iowa frontcourt players complemented by Jacks and Alexander on the perimeter, Ahrens has one of the better lineups in the league, and Jacks recognizes the matchup problem they present in the backcourt.

“We’re trying to move the ball and play the best we can,” Jacks said. “We’re both athletic and pretty strong for our positions, so we try to create mismatches wherever we can and exploit those.”

Jacks and Woodbury will meet incoming Iowa forwards Dale Jones and Brandon Hutton of coach Kevin Sanders’ BlendCard/McCurry’s squad at 6 p.m. The team also includes Northern Iowa’s Paul Jesperson, who has a tendency to play well in front of his home fans.

Coach Jess Settles’ Marion Iron, headlined by freshman sniper Andrew Fleming and Brady Ellingson, will face off against Jarrod Uthoff and Dom Uhl of coach Randy Larson’s Westport/Beat the Bookstore team, also at 6 p.m. — which could end up being the highest-scoring contest of the night.

Fleming, Ellingson, Matt Gatens, and Northern Iowa’s Wes Washpun are one of the top-two guard corps in the league but could struggle with the wing duo of Uhl and Uthoff.

“We have good length,” Uhl said. “If we’re staying aggressive, we can cause problems for a lot of people.”

The nightcap at 7:30 should please the fans in Waterloo, because several Panther stars will face off.

The dreaded backcourt combo of Mike Gesell and Northern Iowa’s Matt Bohannon for Pelling/Comfort Care, along with Iowa freshman Christian Williams and Panther forward Klint Carlson, will take on Hawkeyes Peter Jok and Ahmad Wagner, and potential Panther starters Wyatt Lohaus and Ted Friedman for Linn County Anesthesiologists.

The guard play in the final game should be one to watch, particularly the Bohannon-Jok head-to-head matchup.

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


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