So now Jarrod Uthoff gets ready for his second-straight NBA summer league, with the league a little more sure of his abilities than it was last fall.
Former Iowa player Uthoff, from Marengo and then Cedar Rapids Jefferson, was an undrafted free agent who played for the Sacramento Kings’ summer league team a year ago, then signed with the Toronto Raptors. He played for just eight minutes in one preseason game with Toronto, was waived, and signed to its NBA D-League team in nearby Mississauga, Ontario.
Uthoff spent over half the D-League season with Raptors 905 and didn’t get the playing time there that was going to move his career along. He was traded to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and immediately started looking like the Uthoff who was an Associated Press third-team All-America at Iowa in the 2015-16 season.
He was hitting 3-pointers, blocking jump shots, and just playing a more fluid overall game. In late March, he signed a 10-day contract with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and then another. When the end of the second contract came, the Mavs had to sign him for what little was left of the season, or waive him. They signed him to a multiyear deal, though nothing is guaranteed from now forward.
However, Uthoff will have a summer league and preseason and the familiarity the Mavericks have with him can only help.
Uthoff’s NBA stats: 9 games, 12.8 minutes per game, 4.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.5 blocks.
But the numbers deceive, because he played three minutes or less in his four of those games. Over the other five, when he played at least 19 minutes in each, he averaged 7.2 points and 4.0 rebounds.
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In Wednesday’s season-finale at Memphis, which Dallas won, Uthoff had 11 points in just 19 minutes. In one sequence, he blocked a Memphis 3-pointer at one end of the floor and was fouled at the other end.
Mike Peasley, a DeWitt, Iowa native and Wartburg College graduate, is the pregame and postgame host on Mavericks and Texas Rangers radio broadcasts. I asked him for his observations about where he thinks Uthoff stands with the Mavs, and he was kind enough to take the time to send me this:
“Jarrod has been presented a tremendous opportunity here in Dallas and it’s up to him now to make the most of it. It’s a big summer for him but the Mavericks organization really likes his athleticism and his basketball IQ and his work ethic and I believe he has a chance to be on the team’s roster next season.
“Coming down the stretch this season they had him playing some small forward as they know he can play the stretch 4. He needs to get a bit stronger but he has certainly done enough to earn himself a chance and when you are an undrafted rookie that’s about all you can ask for.”
It’s not easy securing a place in the NBA if you weren’t a first-round draft pick, let alone weren’t drafted at all. But Uthoff is showing he made a good career move by giving a season in the D-League a shot rather than pursuing better money overseas.