Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery was less than four months into the job when Cedar Rapids Jefferson star Jarrod Uthoff selected Wisconsin over the Hawkeyes, despite McCaffery's late recruiting pitch.
McCaffery got his man on the rebound Wednesday. And he did it without spending one second recruiting. In fact, rules didn't permit Uthoff to call McCaffery Wednesday to tell him he had selected Iowa over Iowa State and Creighton.
“I'll let you guys do that for me,” Uthoff said.
The 6-foot-8 forward, who announced at the end of the season that he would leave Wisconsin after redshirting in 2011-12, found himself in the middle of a white-hot controversy when Badger coach Bo Ryan put transfer restrictions on more than 20 schools. Wisconsin later lifted those restrictions from every school but those in the Big Ten.
But those restrictions meant Iowa and Uthoff could not have any contact in the recruiting process. Uthoff must also pay his own way next season, when he sits out according the NCAA transfer rules, but could be put on scholarship starting with the 2013-14 season.
Asked if he expected to received a scholarship from the Hawkeyes for his final three seasons, Uthoff said, “I hope so. I'm not really sure yet.”
And it will be awhile until Uthoff can talk to McCaffery face-to-face to discuss his role on the team or a possible scholarship.
“I can't have any contact with them until I step on campus and enroll (for the fall semester),” said Uthoff, who won't attend summer school.
Uthoff said the entire transfer experience, and the controversy that ensued, “was a real lesson for me. I learned a lot.”
Of playing against Ryan and the Badgers in future years, Uthoff said that “I'm just going to treat it like any other game. I don't see a problem playing for a different school that bett
er suits me.”
Iowa State was one of the schools on Wisconsin's original restricted list. Uthoff made campus visits to both Iowa State and Creighton. He considered doing the same at Marquette and Florida, but never did.
“I decided I wanted to stay closer to home,” Uthoff said.
As for picking Iowa, Uthoff said, “It was a really tough decision. That's why it took so long. I like Iowa's up-tempo style, and I think they'll utilize my versatility.”
This is the second time Iowa and Wisconsin have been on different ends of a transfer story. Guard Ben Brust signed with Iowa and coach Todd Lickliter, but asked to be released from his scholarship when Lickliter was fired after the 2009-10 season. Iowa released him. Big Ten rules didn't allow players to transfer from one Big Ten school to another and remain on scholarship. Brust appealed to the Big Ten's Academics and Eligibility Subcommittee, but was denied on April 22, 2010.
A week later, an 11-member committee made up of Big Ten faculty representatives voted in favor of an appeal by Wisconsin on Brust's behalf. He later signed with the Badgers and went on scholarship immediately.
The Big Ten changed its intra-conference transfer rule in October 2010 — effective with the 2011-12 school year. Now, an athlete not granted a full release would have to pay tuition for a season but would be eligible to receive a scholarship after that. So the Brust saga opened the door for Uthoff to go on scholarship at Iowa after just one year.
“It all works out,” Uthoff said.
Uthoff said he will play in the Prime Time League in North Liberty this summer, and said he will spend time in the weight room in his second straight season away from competition.
“I plan to get a lot stronger over the next year,” Uthoff said. “And I'll work on my basketball skills.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball