Uthoff picked first in the Prime Time League draft
For the third time, Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff will have Randy Larson as his coach in the Prime Time League.
Larson made sure of it on Monday by picking Uthoff first overall in the Prime Time League draft. Larson also picked Uthoff first overall in the 2013 PTL draft. That team went on to win the PTL championship, although, Uthoff didn’t play in the title game two years ago because he was in Estonia at the time competing for an all-star team in the Four Nations Cup.
“He’s my kind of player,” Larson said of the 6-foot-9 Uthoff, who made third-team all-Big Ten last season as a junior. “I’ve had him twice before and it worked out well.”
After learning that he had the first pick in Monday’s draft, which started at 7 p.m., Larson wasted no time in choosing Uthoff, a Cedar Rapids native, who transferred to Iowa from Wisconsin after his freshman season in 2012.
"Seven o’clock was the drawing and seven o’one the pick," Larson said.
Iowa center Adam Woodbury was picked second overall followed by Northern Iowa point guard Wes Washpun, Northern Iowa forward Paul Jesperson and three Iowa guards: Anthony Clemmons, Mike Gesell and Peter Jok to close out the first round.
Former West High standouts Wyatt Lohaus and Jeremy Morgan, both of whom play for Northern Iowa, were picked eighth and 10th, respectively. Lohaus, a 6-2 guard, was the first pick in the second round.
Dale Jones, a 6-8 junior-college transfer, was selected 11th overall and first among Iowa’s five incoming recruits who will play in the PTL this summer.
A sixth recruit, wing player Isaiah Moss from Chicago, will not play in the PTL this summer because of academic obligations that will keep him in Chicago. He is expected to enroll at Iowa in the fall.
Jones was the only incoming recruit that was picked before Nicholas Baer, a 6-7 walk-on freshman forward for the Hawkeyes. Baer, who is from Bettendorf, was taken in the third round.
Larson, who also serves as the PTL commissioner, said Baer made a name for himself by performing well in the PTL last summer. Baer also drew praise from Iowa coach Fran McCaffery for his performance in practice this past season as a true freshman.
Larson thinks PTL coaches also are reluctant sometimes to take an incoming recruit over a player who already has established himself at Iowa, or at least in the PTL.
"It’s just that until you see a guy, you don’t know if he’s a three-man or is he a four-man," Larson said. "Is he an offensive player or a defender? Does he take bad shots or does he not take bad shots?
"I just think seeing a player play is the only way to know what he is for sure. So it isn’t that you don’t know if he’s any good because we all believe that all the incoming players are very, very good. It’s just not knowing exactly what kind of players they are."
Larson said he expects Uthoff to miss only one PTL game this summer, but Uthoff will have a good reason for being absent. He has been invited to attend the inaugural 2015 Nike Basketball Academy, which features 20 of the top college players in the country. The academy will be held June 26-30 in Santa Monica, Calif.
Former Iowa guard Matt Gatens, who grew up in Iowa City and graduated from City High, also was among the players selected in Monday’s draft, as was former Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe. Gatens has played professional overseas since using up his eligibility at Iowa in 2012.
Gatens was picked by former Iowa forward Jess Settles, who will take on a new role as a PTL head coach this summer. Settles, who played at Iowa from 1993-99, selected Gatens in the second round. Settles used his first-round pick and third overall to take Washpun.
The Prime Time League, which is entering its 29th season, will play its games on Thursdays and Sundays with opening night scheduled for Thursday at the North Liberty Community Center. The SportsPlex in Waterloo also will host games for three nights during the regular season.
There is no cost for admission.