The post-tournament lull did not last very long as it pertains to the Wisconsin men's basketball team. Between recruiting updates, a developing roster shakeup and several former Wisconsin players in the professional spotlight, there was no shortage of Badger-related news last week.
1. The Curious Case of Jarrod Uthoff
"It was strictly a basketball decision," Uthoff told the Wisconsin State Journal, explaining that he had thought about transferring for months. Even though we finally know a little more about Jarrod Uthoff's reasons after hearing directly from him, we might understand the situation even less.
What we do know is that UW did not place widespread restrictions on Uthoff's destination, as once feared, though the inclusion of Iowa State has ruffled some feathers. (UPDATE: The entire ACC has reportedly been added to the no contact list after Virginia's Tony Bennett inquired about Uthoff.) Restricting in-state rival Marquette is standard procedure (MU does the same with UW) and a Big Ten conference rule forbids a transfer on scholarship to another member school.
One can only speculate as to why Wisconsin restricted a move to Iowa State. The Cyclones certainly recruit the state of Wisconsin very hard and hand out a lot of offers. The only logical explanation is that Bo Ryan and Co. have more than an inkling that someone connected with ISU program tampered with Uthoff in this case. Otherwise, the restriction appears a bit vindictive. In any case, Uthoff shouldn't be too surprised he wasn't granted a completely full release. Uthoff chose to redshirt. He admittedly improved his overall game on UW's dime and now the Badgers will never realize the benefit of their instruction first hand.
In time we will see if Uthoff's "stay close to home" mantra was true or not as well. Considering how little the explanation makes sense to me, I will continue to think there was something lacking in the team chemistry arena. Uthoff has a visit to Creighton lined up, and Northern Iowa is the most popular hypothesis though UNI has no open scholarships. He could also pay his own way to a restricted school like Iowa or Indiana now that he finally seems to have ruled out junior college.
At the crux of Uthoff's explanation is the "fit" of the program. Unfortunately for Uthoff, this is the exact same program he willingly committed to several years ago. He will be hard-pressed to find another successful, major college program that showcases the versatility of big men like the Badgers do, so arguing about being a 3 or a 4 is splitting hairs.
Ultimately, Uthoff's change of heart is going to cost him two full years of competitive basketball. A young man is doing what he feels he needs to do and you can't begrudge him that, even if it leaves you scratching your head.
2. Update on Jeter
Class of 2012 forward Sheldon Jeter appears to be a high priority right now for the coaching staff, but Bo Ryan rescheduled his in-home visit with Jeter that was to occur on Sunday for this Wednesday. In the meantime, Jeter took an official visit to Vanderbilt and came away with a new offer. It's encouraging that Ryan will still appear to get a final word in, but the more I think about it, the more I believe Penn State still leads.
3. Taylor's team falls at Portsmouth
Jordan Taylor played three games over the weekend at the Portsmouth Invitational in Virginia, displaying his skills for a multitude of NBA scouts. Taylor shook off a terrible first half on Thursday to earn an opening game win, but his team -- Cherry, Bekaert & Holland -- dropped two close games to conclude the PIT. The good news is he measured fairly well at 6'0 3/4" without shoes.
Last week I reviewed what it would take for Taylor to raise eyebrows at the event and the grades are in.
- Sadly, Taylor failed to shoot well. As you can see in the chart, 35% on field goals and sub-40 from long distance was not going to impress folks. And when your assist to turnover ratio is not quite the 2:1 people have come to expect, your upside looks limited.
- There is some indication that Taylor 's defense was up to snuff. As one writer commented, it's one of his best traits:
"Though his upside might be limited based on his average physical profile, Taylor's toughness, basketball I.Q. and commitment to defense are popular traits among NBA decision-makers when identifying potential backup point guards."
- Watching Taylor in the open court is something scouts no doubt were watching. Another observer liked the way Taylor looked in transition during the first game. But reviews were mixed.
|Wednesday (W)||32||4-12 (33%)||0-3 (0%)||2-2||10||7||6||3||5|
|Friday (L)||27||3-10 (30%)||1-4 (25%)||2-2||9||5||2||0||0|
|Saturday (L)||27||6-15 (40%)||3-7 (43%)||0-0||15||2||5||1||3|
|3-Game Avg||28.7||13-37 (35.1%)||4-14 (28.6%)||4-4 (100%)||11.3||4.7||4.3||1.3||2.7|
Gary Woelfel tweeted that Taylor has hired B.J. Armstrong to represent him.
4. Speaking of professionals ...
Former UW center Greg Stiemsma got his second career start on Sunday against Charlotte and responded with NBA.com's Block of the Night for swatting back-to-back shots sandwiched around his own silly turnover. Me likey.
Stiemsma's impact on the Boston Celtics this season has been an all-around good story. It's been made even more satisfying that Stiemer has played a role in Boston's impressive second half resurgence. Since March, Stiemsma is averaging 4.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and 2.2 bpg on 57% shooting in 19.5 mpg (while still committing plenty of fouls of course). More importantly, the Celtics are 18-8 in those 26 games.
Not to be outdone, Devin Harris put up his fourth 18+ point performance of the month for the Utah Jazz on Saturday and Brian Butch opened the D-League playoffs last Thursday night with a dominating 32-point, 15-rebound performance with Bakersfield.
Enjoy the Stiemsma block montage ...