Iowa Hawkeyes Player Preview: Dom Uhl

By Horace E. Cow on October 31, 2016 at 8:00 am
6'9" in sneakers, 7'1" with the hair
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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DOM UHL

Bio: Junior, 6’9”, 217, Frankfurt, Germany
Last Season: 6.0 pts/g, 3.6 rebounds, 45% 3 PT%, .416 FG%

What We Saw Last Season:

How do you solve a problem like Dom Uhl? Arguably no player on the team (save Tyler Cook) has the physical tools that Uhl has, and yet no player was more inconsistent on both ends of the floor last year. His ceiling is extremely high, like NBA-level high, but his floor is as ugly as his broken-down jump shot. When that jump shot was going in from long range early in the Big Ten season, Uhl’s play helped lift Iowa into the top ten in the AP and KenPom rankings, but when teams started forcing him to put the ball on the court instead of taking wide-open threes, his scoring and the team’s fortunes plummeted.

What We Need To See This Season:

Uhl is the prototypical McCaffery player, for better and for worse. His combination of length and speed is exactly what Fran seems to look for in players, but those outstanding measurables are accompanied by various flaws: there’s his shot, of course, but there’s also an iffy handle, a motor that doesn’t seem to run very high, and so-so basketball intelligence.

And yet Dom Uhl could very well be Iowa’s second-best player this year. The potential is there. He’s quick, he’s long, and he can get his shot up over most college defenders. When he’s matched up against opposing big men, he is adept at spacing them out and then taking them to the rack if they mark him too closely. He’s good at drawing fouls, which has always been a crucial part of Iowa’s offense under McCaffery. He has the potential to legitimately defend one through five, and Iowa will rely on that versatility by matching Uhl up against much heftier fours and fives. Iowa’s lack of traditional size is forcing Uhl out of his more natural role as a three or four, but that could be a blessing in disguise. All of Uhl’s rough edges – his shaky handle, his weak off the dribble game – are most apparent when he’s matched up against quick players and can’t simply blow by them. But against true bigs, he’s a good enough shooter that he can’t be ignored and far too quick to be stopped off the dribble. His performance against Purdue’s twin towers of AJ Hammons and Isaac Haas was a good example of this. The only question is whether Uhl can hold up over a year of banging with players who outweigh him by 30-50 pounds.

Best Case Scenario:

Uhl comes back with a better-looking jump shot and a tighter handle and puts the entire package together. He repeats his outside shooting from last year, but adds to it a credible midrange game and improved finishing at the rim. He leverages his athletic ability into more steals, blocks, and better activity on the defensive end, and manages to hold his own on defense against bigger players. Fran finds ways to use his speed away from the ball as a cutter and lob-catcher. He doesn’t force too much on offense and devotes his energy to being a defensive stopper. He averages double-digit points, over five rebounds, a steal and a three a game on over 45% shooting from the field.

Most Likely Scenario:

It’s another rollercoaster ride of a year for Uhl. He shows flashes of ability, but disappears for long stretches. His shot is as inconsistent as it was last year. He plays a lot out of necessity and does his best defending the post, but is sometimes overwhelmed by bigger players. He tries to take on more of an offensive scoring role, but his limitations as a creator emerge and he has to defer to younger up and comers on offense.

One Request:

Better free throw shooting. Uhl got to the line a fair amount last year, but was dreadful once he got there – 58.6% on 1.8 FTA per game. Uhl has the potential to draw a ton of fouls, but sub-60% from the line won’t cut it. His weird shooting motion comes back to bite him here, so if he can get that sorted out, it will solve this and many other problems.

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