Iowa teammates reunited with Mad Ants Uthoff, Woodbury played together in college.
The trade that brought rookie Jarrod Uthoff to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants caught center Adam Woodbury by surprise – in the best way possible.
Woodbury and Uthoff were teammates at the University of Iowa, but beyond that connection, they’re good friends. In fact, Woodbury was part of Uthoff’s wedding this past July.
“Coach (Steve) Gansey had asked me about him and I gave my opinion,” Woodbury said. “I’ve known him a long time. He’s a good guy. He plays the right way. He plays hard. We played summer league with the (Sacramento) Kings together. To be able to play together on another team, that’s astronomical (odds) it would happen. I’m excited, and I’m excited for him to help our team out, and I really think he can.”
Uthoff will make his debut when the Mad Ants (17-10) play a matinee against the Erie BayHawks (7-21) at 11 a.m. Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.
The Ants acquired Uthoff last week from Raptors 905 in exchange for former Indiana University standout Christian Watford and a third-round draft pick in next season’s draft.
Uthoff , who is 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, averaged 7.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in 24 games with Raptors 905. Watford averaged 5.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in 25 games with Fort Wayne.
“We appreciated everything Christian did for us, his hard work and helping us to get to 17-10,” Gansey said. “He wanted more of an opportunity and we don’t want to hold anybody back. The decision was made to try to find a good spot for him and get something in value back and that’s what we did.”
Uthoff arrived in Fort Wayne on Sunday and will play in his first game after three days of workouts.
“From watching him, he picks his spots and does a good job with that,” Gansey said. “Him being a pick-and-pop guy, that’s kind of what we’re looking for. He seems great, understanding what we expect and everything. He shoots the ball at a high clip, and that’s what we expect, too.”
Uthoff led Iowa in scoring last season, averaging 18.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and was named All-Big Ten first team. He was also a member of the all-defensive team.
“I’m excited and looking forward to being a Mad Ant,” Uthoff said. “Their style of play really fits me. I like the way they play free and open, make good decisions, move the ball, unselfish. I’m excited about it.”
Uthoff said it has been an adjustment to move from the college game to the pro game, but he feels he has been making solid progress.
“It’s the next step, different ideologies, a different game,” Uthoff said. “It’s an adjustment. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult. It just takes time for everyone.”
Woodbury, a 7-foot-1 center, led Iowa with 8.3 rebounds per game last season while averaging 7.6 points per game.
He missed the start of this season due to a lingering back issue, but has played in 10 games with the Mad Ants, with increasing playing time. He is expected to join Trey McKinney-Jones, Julyan Stone, Alex Poythress and Stephan Hicks in the starting lineup on Thursday.
Woodbury’s return to health and reunion with his friend and former teammate has put him in his best frame of mind this season.
“It’s all a process and I’m getting better every day,” Woodbury said. “The more minutes I’ve gotten, I’ve adjusted well. I think I’m in a good groove right now. I’m not always going to score 20, but I do whatever I can to help the team win and get better.”
Woodbury expects Uthoff to step into the rotation with relative ease.
“He’s another guy who can space the floor, rebound play defense and make the extra pass,” Woodbury said. “That’s something our team prides itself on. We don’t have guys pounding the ball trying to score, we have a lot of guys moving the ball and playing the right way. He’ll fit this system well.” <br>
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<center> Mad Ants vs. Erie BayHawks </center><br>
Tipoff: 11 a.m. Thursday at Memorial Coliseum