NORTH LIBERTY, Ia. – Jarrod Uthoff returned from the prestigious Nike Basketball Academy with a new appreciation for his competitors — and zero interest in discussing Bo Ryan's retirement.
The Iowa senior-to-be was one of 20-plus college players invited to Santa Monica, Calif., for three days of basketball. He was treated like royalty, stayed in a nice hotel and rubbed elbows with NBA stars.
A great experience, right? Well, yeah, it was — after Day 1.
"I played pretty terrible my first day. I was really nervous, I don't really know why," Uthoff said. "I kind of felt overwhelmed. When I got comfortable, I played well."
Uthoff said he learned a lot playing against NBA players like James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George, not to mention some of the college game's elite stars, including Iowa State's Georges Niang.
"There's other guys that can do parts of my game better, so I really need to just focus on what I can do best," Uthoff said, "which is shoot, drive, pull-up."
Though Uthoff was Iowa's top scoring option in clutch moments in 2014-15 (Recall: His jumper that beat Minnesota at Williams Arena), he played under-the-radar while earning third-team all-Big Ten Conference honors. Now, there's no question he'll be the focal point on opposing scouting reports — though the Cedar Rapids native bristled at the notion that this would be his team.
The Iowa junior sank a 17-footer with 3.5 seconds to play.
"I'm not too worried about 'this is my team, I'm going to be the go-to guy,' " Uthoff said. "I'm going to do what it takes to have my team be successful and hopefully win a national championship."
Speaking of cool responses, Uthoff was asked about Ryan announcing this week that he would retire as Wisconsin's head coach after this upcoming season. Uthoff signed with Ryan and the Badgers, but left after one season in what became a contentious intraconference transfer to Iowa.
"I could care less what those guys do," Uthoff replied, later adding with a smile, "Not to be rude."
In addition to addressing the Nike camp and the Ryan thing, Uthoff broke a little news Thursday night after scoring 22 points with eight rebounds and five assists in his Prime Time League game. He said he expected to play more of the 4-position this season, a role second-round NBA Draft pick Aaron White starred in a season ago.
"If I play the 4, I'll still play the same way I do," Uthoff said. "It doesn't make any difference if I'm the 3 or 4."
The freshman scored 37 points with seven assists Thursday night.