The Prime Time League, a summer league that features the talents of players from both Iowa and Northern Iowa, got under way Sunday night at the North Liberty Community Center. Some observations from the first round of games:
--In case there ever was any doubt, the PTL is set up to feature the talents of the Iowa players. The 12 Hawkeyes playing in the league averaged 27 points and 8.4 rebounds per game on opening night. Each of them made at least one 3-point field goal and they were a combined 42 for 82 from behind the arc. Incoming freshman Luka Garza led the way with 41 points, but Ryan Kriener scored 38, Jack Nunge and Jordan Bohannon 35 apiece, Isaiah Moss 32, Tyler Cook 27, Brady Ellingson 25, Maishe Dailey 23, Ahmad Wagner 22, Dom Uhl 21, Nicholas Baer 17 and Christian Williams 9.
--The only one of the three games that was remotely close was the one in which the two 6-foot-10 freshmen, Garza and Nunge, went up against one another. Nunge’s team eventually won 98-97 with Ellingson draining a game-winning three with nine seconds remaining. After two free throws by UNI’s Klint Carlson pushed the margin to 98-94, Dailey nailed a meaningless three at the buzzer. The team that included Bohannon and Kriener clobbered the Wagner/Williams team and the Baer/Moss team rolled past the Cook/Uhl club.
--Obviously, almost all of the Iowa players looked pretty good but Dailey, who played the least of all the returning players, looked really sharp and possibly ready for more playing time. He made five of his six attempts from 3-point range.
--Garza and Nunge both look as though they will help the Hawkeyes right away, especially Nunge. Garza is more of a traditional back-to-the-basket post man so he’s going to be contending with Cook and Cordell Pemsl for playing time. Nunge has exceptional perimeter skills for a big man and looks very comfortable with the ball in his hands. He seems to have the ball skills of a 6-1, 6-2 guy. Both players have long arms and will immediately make the Hawkeyes a better shot-blocking team.
--Pemsl, who is not playing in the summer league after undergoing sports hernia surgery in May, came out to watch his buddies play Sunday but didn't get to just sit and spectate. One of the scorekeepers didn't show up so Pemsl was pressed into service as a replacement.
--Although Bohannon made eight 3-point field goals, which was no surprise, it looked as though he made more of an effort to penetrate and take the ball to the hoop. That’s something that was missing from his game somewhat during a breakout 2016-17 season in which he set school records for assists and 3-point field goals by a freshman.
--Remember this name: Tywhon Pickford. You’re going to see a lot of him in a Northern Iowa uniform in seasons to come. The 6-3 incoming freshman from Maple Grove, Minnesota, was 11 for 17 from the field and scored 26 points while teaming with Baer, Moss and UNI teammate Bennett Koch to roll to a lopsided victory.
--A few players were added to the league after the initial draft to help fill out rosters, including former Davenport Central star Hal Bateman. Although he is four years removed from his college career at Stephen F. Austin and didn’t pile up big stats Sunday (0 points, 5 assists), the 5-8 Bateman seemed as quick and as disruptive on defense as ever while playing for the same team as Garza and Dailey.