IOWA CITY -- Former Cedar Rapids Jefferson prep Jarrod Uthoff will have a major impact on the team next year, Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said Monday morning on the Big Ten coaches teleconference.
"The thing I like about (Uthoff) is," McCaffery said, "you can play him as a long, shot-blocking post player or you can play him on the perimeter and the guy who can put it on the deck, hit pull-up jumper, hit his 3 and make a play for someone else off the dribble.
"When you put that skill set together, you have a very impressive player. I think with the other players we have, it's something we desperately need."
Uthoff, who stands 6-foot-8, was Iowa's Mr. Basketball in 2011 after averaging 26.2 points and 11.2 rebounds a game at Jefferson. He signed with Wisconsin but elected to red-shirt for his freshman season. He decided to transfer in a high-profile dust-up last April, and ultimately chose Iowa.
Uthoff was not released from his scholarship and is paying his way to college this year. He'll be eligible to play next year.
McCaffery said Uthoff has focused on improvement this year and gaining a little weight and strength, "but he's going to be a lean, athletic guy."
"He has just focused everything on improving his game," McCaffery said. "He is constantly in the practice facility working on his game. I tried to give him as many reps as I can in practice and a treat him almost as a starter in the sense that he's going to get as may reps as possible.
"He's either on the scout team or he's on one of the teams that are scrimmaging. He's playing a lot. I think that's important because we expect him to be an impact player next year."
Ratings sliding down
Iowa (17-10, 6-8 Big Ten) has slipped to 89th in the latest Rating Performance Index (RPI), a key evaluator in determining NCAA tournament spots. Iowa ranks 36th in Pomeroy rankings, which is based on points scored and allowed per possession. RPI ranks teams on wins, losses and strength of schedule. The index is figured on a team's wins and losses (25 percent), the team's opponents' wins and losses (50 percent) and the opponents' opponents wins and losses (25 percent).
Iowa faces Purdue (13-14, 6-8 Big Ten) at 7:36 p.m. Wednesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Boilermakers have won 11 of the last 12 against Iowa, including a 65-62 overtime win at West Lafayette in January.
The Hawkeyes then travel to No. 1 Indiana (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Iowa dropped the teams' first meeting 69-65 on Dec. 31 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa has four games left in the regular season. The Hawkeyes play host to long-time rival Illinois on March 5, then close out the regular season against Nebraska on March 9 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Nebraska's Shavon Shields was named the Big Ten freshman of the week after scoring 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds against the Hawkeyes in a 64-60 upset. The Cornhuskers trailed by 19 points in the first half. Shields shot 55 percent from the floor in 37 minutes.