Can Iowa’s Dom Uhl Make a Leap?

Posted by Jerry Scherwin on November 11th, 2016

There is nothing certain but the uncertain in college basketball. Unless someone figures out a way to “Biff” themselves into the past fully equipped with a Sports Almanac and some KenPom rankings, we’re going to get some things wrong. We make suggestions. We make arguments. We make picks. But nothing is 100 percent when it comes to the NCAA. Teams come out of nowhere to capture our basketball hearts (here’s to you, Villanova) and outgoing seniors and bright-eyed freshmen alike make some of the biggest differences for contending programs. Things ultimately get weird. It’s in that weirdness where we get a player like Dom Uhl, the Iowa Hawkeyes’ now starting four/five/positionless-high-ceiling-athlete heading into the 2016-17 season.

Dom Uhl (USA TODAY Sports)

Dom Uhl is a key to Iowa’s possible return to the Big Dance. (USA TODAY Sports)

Uhl, a top reserve during the early part of last year’s schedule, slowly saw his role on last year’s 22-win team decrease as the season rolled along. Call it what you will, but Uhl got lost in the shuffle as Fran McCaffery turned to playing his senior starters more minutes during Big Ten play. As Uhl’s minutes dipped, so too did his confidence, consistency and any sort of urgency that came along with it. That’s not to say there weren’t flashes of the NBA-level athletic talent we’ve all heard about; because there were. It’s just that it came in-between large chunks of time when Uhl seemed like just another guy. When last year was all said and done, Uhl ended the season averaging six points per game on 41.6 percent shooting from the field (45% from three, on nearly two attempts per game) and 3.6 rebounds in 17.9 minutes. As a contributor who was learning how to play out of position for the majority of the year (Uhl was way more comfortable scrambling along the wing than subbing in for Adam Woodbury in the post), that stat line isn’t so bad. If you take into consideration that he had only played a few years of actual basketball before coming to Iowa, well, you can see why fans are hoping Uhl can make a considerable leap heading into his junior season.

For that to happen, Uhl is going to have to prove that he can play with an edge. I don’t want to be the body doctor at Rush the Court, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who looked at the box score after an Iowa game and thought to themselves “Uhl played?” This was especially the case when opposing defenses stopped allowing him to shoot wide-open threes from the corners and forced him to put the ball on the floor, which ended up in disaster more times than it did not. Luckily for the junior from Frankfurt, Germany, he will have every opportunity to prove that he’s learned from last year’s mistakes and fully display the work he’s put in during the summer. As an upperclassmen with real experience (something the Hawkeyes are going to desperately need), he’s going to be leaned on heavily in McCaffery’s fluid, positionless lineups.

If he can shore up his handles, become more efficient the closer he gets to the basket, and somehow finds a “motor” that is better equipped to handle a Porsche rather than a lawn mower, Uhl could easily be the second best player on a team that nobody saw coming. Uhl can be the total, weird package for Iowa. He can be one of the best two-way players in the Big Ten during his final two years on campus. He can be the type of player that can launch Iowa — a team that is expected to finish in the bottom half of the Big Ten by an assortment of college hoops pundits — back into March Madness. He’s just got to bust through any of his leftover uncertainties.

Jerome Scherwin Jr. (2 Posts)

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