Late Monday evening, “The Decision” was made.
This time, it was made by Jarrod Uthoff and he did not have an hour long, pointless show to announce his decision.
Instead, he made his decision to join the Badgers much more of a private matter, and he made sure he told the other teams what he was doing as soon as possible so they could move on to new prospects.
On Sunday, we found out that he would make his decision on Monday—right before he left to go to Las Vegas for a tournament with his AAU team, the Iowa Barnstormers.
A few weeks ago, Uthoff announced that he had trimmed his list of teams down to six: Iowa, Butler, Illinois, UNI, Iowa State, and Wisconsin.
It just happens to be a coincidence that Uthoff was getting looked at by Butler, because many have compared his body type and style of play to former Butler star, Gordon Hayward.
“A lot of coaches are calling him the next Gordon Heyward,” said Jamie Johnson, co-director of the Iowa Barnstormers. “I don’t know if he’s going to be that kind of kid. Gordon Hayward wasn’t Gordon Hayward a few years ago. It just kind of blossomed.”
“But Jarrod, I see some of the similarities in their game and their build. Others have called him Robbie Hummel (of Purdue). …But I think when it’s all said and done, I think Jarrod’s going to be a little bit closer to what Hayward brings because of his ability to handle the ball and get to the rim.”
Uthoff, a 6’8, 190 pound center from the Cedar Rapids Jefferson, averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds during his junior year while leading the J-Hawks to their first state tournament appearance since 1999. He also developed a good mid-range shot, shooting 55 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line.
The Iowa Newspaper Association selected Uthoff as a first team Class 4-A All Stater. He was also named the KCRG/Gazette Communications boys’ basketball area player of the year.
But, not only is he a success on the court, he also happens to be a very good student and person as well. This year, he put together a 4.0 GPA, and was named the junior class president.
“He really does light up a room when he enters it,” said Jefferson assistant coach Carey Ash. “Freshmen girls, sophomore boys…everyone likes Jarrod.”
It was only within the last few months when Uthoff’s recruiting really started to take off.
Among the teams that really started to gain interest was the Fighting Illini. They had him take a visit to their campus in April, and that’s when he started to put Illinois among his favorite schools.
“(The UI visit) went really well,” Uthoff said. “I got to play with the guys and talk to the coaches, meet all the coaching staff and the strength and conditioning guy and tour the campus. It was awesome. They’ve always had a great program there at Illinois. And they like my style of play and how versatile I am. They think I’d fit in great.”
But, in the end he decided that Wisconsin was really the place where he would fit in the best. “I just think their style of play best suits me,” Uthoff said.
“In their system, they give big guys with range a chance to step out and shoot…Iowa and Iowa State are rebuilding right now, and I could have went there and helped but Wisconsin has a good thing going now; that played into the decision.”
I personally congratulate Uthoff for joining the Badgers, because I think the style of Bo Ryan’s coaching is more fit for him. And, with the incoming talent Illinois has coming in, his playing time at Illinois may have been limited.
Now, Illinois has to move their sights to different recruits still wondering where they will go.
Among recruits Illinois has its eyes on are Uthoff’s teammate on the Barnstormers, Josh Oglesby, as well as a top prospect from Illinois, Mike Shaw.
Even with the loss of a good, prospering recruit, Weber still has the tools in place to go make up for the loss.
It’s only a matter of time until Illinois reels in another top-notch recruit.