WATERLOO – Trey Dickerson grew up in New York City, went to high school in Los Angeles, attended prep school in Texas, and just spent a year earning rave reviews playing basketball at a junior college in North Dakota.
Thursday night, he made his public debut in Iowa. We’ll see if he has a 3-year stay that makes him a key piece in Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeye program.
Dickerson arrived at the Cedar Valley Sportsplex a few minutes before his Culver’s/McCurry’s team’s Prime Time League game began. The first time the 6-footer he touched the ball, the 6-footer hit Iowa teammate Aaron White with a lob for a dunk.
That was a highlight. But overall statistically, Dickerson was a face in the PTL crowd. He had 16 points on 7-of-20 shooting that included 1-of-7 from 3-point range. Three of his drives to the basket were blocked. But others were gems that resulted in baskets, either by him or teammates. He had nine assists.
Most of the game’s high spots belonged to the Jill Armstrong Team at Skogman Realty, otherwise known as the team of Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa), Jeremy Morgan (Northern Iowa) and Dondre Alexander (State Fair Community College in Missouri via Iowa City West High). All three had 20 or more points and stretches of dominating the game at the offensive end.
But this is summer, and we want to hear about the new guys. Is Dickerson, a sophomore-to-be, a link to better days ahead for the Hawkeyes? Dunno. It was hard to judge what kind of defensive player he is when he was matched up against fellow sophomore Morgan, who is five inches taller and has a lot of game.
That most certainly won’t be Dickerson’s defensive assignment Dec. 20 when Iowa plays UNI in Des Moines.
But senior-to-be White sure liked what he saw after playing with Dickerson for the first time in between White’s trip to Kevin Durant’s skills camp for elite college players last weekend in Washington, D.C., and heading to Las Vegas next week for LeBron James’ similar event.
“It’s early,” White said. “But just watching him move, I can tell you how he’s going to play for us. He’s real quick, really explosive. He knows how to play. He gets the ball to the right people at the right time.
“That ball is never stuck in his hands, which I love. That’s really going to help my game. … You get him to a college game where he attacks that key and he’s got that step-move down and I’m on the baseline, that’ll be good for us.”
You know what else would be good for the Hawkeyes? If Uthoff plays with the confidence and aggressiveness he displayed here Thursday in the PTL’s first foray beyond Johnson County in its 28-year history.
The junior-to-be forward had 29 points and 16 rebounds, but summer league numbers are summer league numbers. What Uthoff did have was a little edge to him, an edge that drifted away as last season grew longer.
It wasn’t hard to understand. It was Uthoff’s first collegiate season, and first season of competitive basketball in three years. And it was played under the bright lights of the Big Ten, not typically the best place for a first-year player to grow self-esteem in February and March.
“I’m a thousand times more comfortable with a season under my belt,” Uthoff said. “I got down on myself last year after a bad game. It kind of snowballs. I think that’s what happened to the team late (in the season).
“I think next year we’ll learn from that lesson.”
Uthoff’s early take on Dickerson: “He’s got handles. He’s quick. He looks like a good point guard to me.”
Dickerson has been places. NYC. SoCal. North Dakota.
“North Dakota is a lot different,” he said. “Cold. It keeps you focused, getting the right grades, getting better on the court.”
Winter is cold in Iowa, too. With Devyn Marble gone, the Hawkeyes need their backcourt to come into focus. McCaffery didn’t bring Dickerson here just because the player has no problem with homesickness.