Iowa-Wisconsin basketball games have gotten to be pretty interesting the past year or so, but just wait. You haven’t seen anything yet.
In the next few Big Ten seasons, they could be really fascinating.
You’ll recall that sharpshooting guard Ben Brust originally signed with Iowa, but wriggled out of his commitment so that he could go play for Wisconsin.
Now Jarrod Uthoff, the top high school player in Iowa a year ago, is leaving Wisconsin after a redshirt season to play for the Hawkeyes. The 6-foot-8 forward won’t be eligible to play for Iowa until the 2013-14 season, but the tension between the two programs have heightened considerably with this development.
It doesn’t help that the up-tempo Hawks seemingly had the number of the plodding Badgers last season, handing them two of their six Big Ten defeats.
And we probably haven’t heard the last of the Uthoff situation. Under Big Ten rules, Uthoff is not allowed to have direct conversations with Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, and there already are innuendoes from Wisconsin and other rival schools that Iowa did something illegal to land the former Cedar Rapids Jefferson star.
As the Wisconsin State Journal pointed out in reporting Uthoff’s decision, “some are convinced the two parties already have had contact.”
Uthoff said he has not spoken to McCaffery. He said he surmised that the Hawkeyes would accept him based on conversations he had when they were recruiting him two years ago.
We don’t know how good Uthoff will be, especially after going two years without playing in a regular-season game at any level, but if he lives up to the hype, Iowa could have a really good team in 2013-14.
In fact, Uthoff is going to have to fight for playing time on a team that presumably still will feature Aaron White, Devyn Marble, Melsahn Basabe, Zach McCabe, Josh Oglesby, Gabe Olaseni and the five recruits who will join the team next season, including Parade All-American point guard Mike Gesell and 7-footer Adam Woodbury.
If you watch the College World Series during the next week or so, try to catch a glimpse of Florida State outfielder James Ramsey or Stanford pitcher-third baseman Stephen Piscotty, whose teams are playing one another this weekend for a spot in the CWS.
Both were selected by the St. Louis Cardinals within the first 36 picks of the Major League Baseball draft last week, which means they could be coming to a ballpark near you. Before the summer is over, they could be members of the Quad-Cities River Bandits.
Ramsey, in particular, sounds as if he could be fun to watch. He has emerged as a major offensive force this spring, batting .385 with 13 home runs.
While the Cardinals focused on high-profile college players in the early rounds of the draft, it seemed more and more teams chose to roll the dice on high school players.
The Mets, Phillies and Blue Jays all picked more high school players than college players, with the Mets leading the way with 24 high school draftees.
The Cardinals were closer to the other end of the spectrum. They selected only seven prep players. Only the Giants and Angels, with five each, had less. San Francisco used 35 of its first 36 picks on college players, then took high school kids in each of the last four rounds.
At Monday’s John Deere Classic media day, a reporter asked Steve Stricker what he has done with all those distinctive JDC trophies he has won the past three years. Maybe he’s been giving them out to family members as oversized ash trays?
No, Stricker said they’re all at home in his office. He said he likes the look of them with a big buck about to take a leap.
“I’m a deer hunter, so it’s great to get a trophy with a deer on it,” Stricker said. “Maybe that’s karma for me.”
If you go to the unofficial football website for Geneseo High School football (geneseofootball.org), one of the first things you see is an area of the site where you can buy a Geneseo state championship ring.
They probably would sell a few more if the school had actually won a title in the past 30 years. The Maple Leafs have four Illinois state championships to their credit, but the last one came in 1982.
There have been plenty of college basketball players through the years who were someone’s daddy. Drake, next season, will have a player who will be Daddy to everyone.
Daddy Ugbede, a 6-foot-7 power forward from Nigeria by way of Gardena, Calif., signed a letter of intent with the Bulldogs last month.
We already can hear the Drake student section chanting “Who’s your Daddy?”