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Jarrod Uthoff has a big fan in northern California.
It’s someone who used to play Division I basketball himself, someone who is his third-cousin. Someone named Uthoff.
Ed Uthoff will be watching Sunday as Jarrod and his Iowa team plays Michigan.
"I’ve been following Jarrod since he moved to Cedar Rapids Jefferson (after his freshman year of high school)," Ed said by phone Friday. "That’s where Dean and I went.
"I get the Big Ten Network. I watch as much as I possibly can to see what Jarrod’s doing. It’s just been wonderful to watch Jarrod, really exciting. It’s brought back my interest in college basketball and takes me back to the days I played.”
But they’ve never met.
“I knew Jarrod’s grandmother pretty well before my father passed away,” Ed said. “I can’t honestly say I’ve met either of his parents.”
Some background: Dean and Ed Uthoff are brothers who both played basketball at Cedar Rapids Jefferson, where Jarrod was the state’s “Mr. Basketball” in 2011.
The 6-foot-11 Dean played at Iowa State from 1976 to 1980. He is the Cyclones’ all-time leading rebounder with 1,233. Ed was on the Air Force football team for a year, then left and played basketball at San Jose State from 1980 to 1983.
Dean had a 13-year career in Australia’s National Basketball League. He became a naturalized citizen there in 1991 and has remained there. Ed went to work for Intel Corporation after college. He is a planning manager in that company’s office in Sacramento, Calif.
“I was a three-year starter at San Jose State, the last two as co-captain,” Ed said. “I wasn’t the player Dean, or certainly Jarrod, is. I was a two-or-three-point, two-or-three rebound kind of guy. Our team scored 50 and held the opponents in the mid-to-high 40s.”
Then-Iowa coach Lute Olson recruited Dean “very heavily,” said Ed, “but then he signed a center (Larry Olsthoorn) from Pella. So Dean went to Iowa State and was a great player from Day One.”
Dean averaged 11.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game over his four years with the Cyclones. He had 22 rebounds in a game on two occasions, and averaged 14.0 as a sophomore.
Earlier this week, I was on a Carver-Hawkeye Arena elevator with Jarrod before an Iowa practice. I asked if he knew about Dean’s Iowa State career. He said he knew Dean was a good player. But when I told him Dean led the Big Eight Conference in rebounding four straight years, Jarrod replied, “That’s crazy.”
Dean was a sixth-round draft pick of the San Antonio Spurs in 1980, but didn’t make the team. Former Iowa State teammate Chuck Harmison was playing ball in Australia and persuaded Dean to do the same. He originally thought he’d give it a shot for one year. It turned into the rest of his life.
Ed said before he went to Australia to visit his brother during his playing days, Dean told him, “I want to let you know I’m kind of a big star here.’”
Ed’s response was, “Sure.” But then he got there and, “Anywhere we went he was pretty much mobbed. He was on TV commercials. I thought ‘Oh my God, you are a big star.’”
Jarrod has become a star in his own right in this, his senior season. He has made a lot of fans, including one who lives in California and shares the same last name.
“The range Jarrod has is unbelievable to me,” Ed said. “He’s such a different player than Dean and I were. We were more typical big guys, rugged. We did most of our scoring in the paint.
“He’s such a complete player, longer than Dean and I were. He’s so efficient with all his movement. He can pound the ball inside and he can shoot the three.
“I have a couple friends at Intel who went to Purdue and Michigan. We have a friendly rivalry, and I’ve been telling them ‘My cousin’s going to dominate you guys.’ The Hawks got Purdue, and now it’s Michigan this weekend.”
Ed said he’d love to see Iowa get sent his way in the NCAA tourney and meet his fellow Uthoff/fellow J-Hawk. The closest site is Anaheim, in the Sweet 16. But Sacramento does have an NBA team, so ...