The Cedar Rapids Jefferson grad and 2011 Iowa Mr. Basketball was at the scorer’s table, getting ready to check in late in the first half of Wisconsin’s season opener against Kennesaw State in November. He steps on the court, he’s playing the rest of the season.
Perhaps it was fate that stepped in and prevented that from happening.
“I was all ready to go on,” Uthoff said during a phone interview Tuesday. “Coach put me in, but just a little late. The ball was put in play, then the clock ran out.”
Was that a sign?
Uthoff had second thoughts and decided against playing in the second half. He reassessed his options, talked to his family and came to a conclusion: this would be a redshirt season.
“That close to playing,” he said with a laugh.
Instead he’s sitting, observing and gaining weight. The 6-foot-8 Uthoff said he has packed on 18 needed pounds since he first stepped foot in Madison, putting him over 200.
The goal before next season begins is to get to 220.
“It’s been pretty hard not to play, but it’s allowed me to work on my game and get stronger,” Uthoff said. “I asked msyelf how I could benefit the team best. Strength-wise, I’m not ready to play, so I decided, ‘OK, it will benefit me and my team by playing a fifth year.’”
Uthoff has traveled with Wisconsin on all of its road trips, so at least he’s getting to see almost all of the Big Ten Conference arenas. He’ll be on the bench Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena when Wisconsin (20-7) plays the Iowa Hawkeyes.
It’ll be his first trip home since last summer.
“It’ll be pretty good to see everyone,” he said.
“Jarrod just turned 18 in the spring, so he’s really young for his grade,” Badgers associate head Greg Gard said in a November statement announcing Uthoff’s red-shirt. “I think looking at the big picture, he figured out that an extra year is really going to help him physically. He really thought hard over this and redshirting can never be a negative if you handle it the right way, and he’ll handle it terrifically. He’ll be a very good player here.”
Uthoff picked Wisconsin over Iowa after a whirlwind recruiting period. He was asked if he has had any second thoughts, considering the way his career has begun.
Or not begun.
“No, I like everything here,” he said. “No regrets. No regrets at all.”