IOWA CITY, Ia. – Fran McCaffery stepped in Dominique Uhl's path as the Iowa freshman forward headed to the bench and did some spirited coaching.
"He told me not to jump on a driver," Uhl said of a play in Saturday's game against Maryland-Baltimore County. "I jumped, and he drove right by me."
Lesson learned. And more lessons to come as Uhl jumps head-first into Division I college basketball.
The best way to learn those lessons isn't in practice, but in games like Tuesday's 8 p.m. contest against Alcorn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"This is a good time for me to get more comfortable and get my minutes in," Uhl said.
He played 20 minutes Saturday. Twenty minutes of trial by fire. Twenty minutes deposited in the experience bank.
"You can tell he's almost there," McCaffery said. "He's not there yet."
Uhl's numbers so far are pedestrian — 10.7 minutes a game, 2.0 points and 2.4 rebounds. But his range of talent for a 6-foot-9 player is intriguing.
"He's got a unique skill set, doesn't he?" McCaffery said. "He's a high-level rebounder. He can handle the ball, and he doesn't panic when he's out there."
Uhl is a good ball-handler for someone his size. His quickness is another advantage. His perimeter skills are expected to be another plus as he gains confidence. His rebounding will improve as he gets stronger.
He has the potential to be another Aaron White, the Hawkeyes' senior forward who leads the team in scoring and rebounding.
"We have some similarities," Uhl said. "I think he's definitely a great player."
White made an immediate impact at Iowa. Uhl is more of a work in progress. But he doesn't look like he's intimidated.
He played 6 minutes at North Carolina last week in the Hawkeyes' 60-55 upset victory. He had two rebounds and missed a 3-pointer. McCaffery loved the fact that he had the confidence to take that 3.
"When I'm open, I'm going to take them," Uhl said.
Uhl left his home in Frankfurt, Germany, because he wanted to play college ball in the United States. He ended up at Point Pleasant Beach High School in New Jersey. McCaffery learned about him through an AAU contact.
Iowa assistant Andrew Francis went to see Uhl's Jersey Shore Warriors AAU team play a game against a team that featured national top 50 recruit Goodluck Okonoboh, now a freshman at Nevada-Las Vegas. Every other recruiter in the gym was there to watch Okonoboh. Uhl outplayed him.
"I just tried to take him off the dribble," Uhl said.
Uhl's recruiting intensified after that game, but he would pick Iowa over Boston College and Temple.
"I love the coaches, the campus, the way they play, the facilities ... everything about it," Uhl said.
Now, Uhl is experiencing Division I college basketball, with the rough-and-tumble Big Ten schedule rapidly approaching.
"You've got to play hard and compete on every possession," Uhl said.
The kid is learning. Minute by minute.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.