Last night rumors broke out that redshirt Freshman Jarrod Uthoff would be transferring from Wisconsin, a rumor that we were able to confirm later that night. Reaction to his decision was one of shock around the Badgers program and around those close to his basketball life.
Perhaps one of the biggest indications of just how shocking the decision was is the transfer restrictions placed on Uthoff. According to this article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette those restrictions include several specific schools in multiple conferences. It also states he plans to appeal those restrictions.
One would assume that includes the schools within the Big Ten, especially since associate head coach Greg Gard was quoted recently as saying to Uthoff's AAU coach he thought Uthoff "looked good and [he] was excited to get him on the court next year." All of that comes from an article by Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal.
Not only should that list include the Big Ten schools because of that, but also because a transfer of a player who's been in a program within the conference requires him to sit out two full years when transferring inside the conference as well as go without a scholarship according to conference rules.
So that means he would have sat out three seasons without playing a lick of high level basketball outside of practice and pick up games. A situation that would virtually guarantee him zero playing time no matter where he went in the conference.
Also believed to be on that list is Iowa State, a school that was after Uthoff hard in high shcool and was thought to be a close second behind the Badgers in his recruiting. This one is a bit more indicative of the surprise and shock in my book since Ryan is usually pretty good at allowing a player to move on if they don't want to be here and weren't really part of the plans in the end.
It's not as if the Cyclones and Badgers play each other every year or are in the same conference, so this is a bit puzzling to me.
A lot of speculation has centered around possibly transferring to Creighton, which we reported could be a destination last night, and possibly fellow Missouri Valley Conference foe Northern Iowa. Both schools would fit his game well and could also not be on the transfer restricted lists, but we've been unable to confirm a full list at this point.
One option that may have to happen for him if he doesn't win his appeal of the transfer restrictions is playing one year of Junior College basketball and then heading to a Division 1 school from there, allowing him to have three years of eligibility.
We wish him well in whatever choice he makes as it's clear he doesn't hold any ill will to the Wisconsin program or the school.
But, where does this leave the Badgers? Uthoff was expected to tandem with incoming star recruit (top 25 nationally) Sam Dekker to be the frontcourt for the Badgers in the future according to some. That stream of thought was a bit curious to me because the two players games were so similar I'm not sure they would've been complementary players ala Bruesewitz and Berggren this year.
We do know that the Badgers have an offer out to 6'6" forward Sheldon Jeter out of Beaver Falls, PA. However Wisconsin is competing with Penn State, Florida State, and South Carolina for his services. A decision from Jeter should be coming soon since the signing period is now back open.
Also out there, according to sources, are a few players in Illinois that are going under the radar. If the don't land Jeter an offer could be put out to one of those kids or Wisconsin may end up choosing to hold on to the scholarship for what is thought to be a deeper and more talented group of recruits in the 2013 class, so be on the lookout for some movement in the recruiting world, something we'll keep you updated on as we get more information.
One thing that won't be totally hurt by this transfer regardless of what they do with the scholarship is depth up front. Wisconsin will have transfer Zach Bohannon (Jason's brother) available starting this upcoming season as well as the incoming Sam Dekker to go along with Frank Kaminsky to form a good group of players to complement the likes of Ryan Evans, Mike Bruesewitz, and Jared Berggren. The player that may benefit the most is Evan Anderson. The 6'10" redshirt sophomore (2012) hardly saw the court last season, but he'll be a bigger option off the bench next year surely because of the fact that Uthoff was a taller player in front of him, but don't expect him to be logging significant minutes either.
In the end the Badgers should be fine without Uthoff, but his loss does make it all the more important to hit on a talented forward that's able to contribute right away in the 2013 class as both Bruesewitz and Berggren are Seniors next year.