Who should have been Iowa’s male athlete of the year?

Iowas+Aaron+Mallett+prepares+for+the+mens+60-meter+hurdles+during+the+Iowa+Dual+meet+on+Jan.+16+in+the+Recreation+Building.+Mallett+finished+first+with+a+time+of+7.82.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FBrooklynn+Kascel%29

Iowa’s Aaron Mallett prepares for the men’s 60-meter hurdles during the Iowa Dual meet on Jan. 16 in the Recreation Building. Mallett finished first with a time of 7.82. (The Daily Iowan/Brooklynn Kascel)

Jarrod Uthoff

Iowa guard Jarrod Uthoff lays the ball up against Minnesota on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016 in Carver-Hawkeye in Iowa City, IA. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers, 75-71. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)
Iowa guard Jarrod Uthoff lays the ball up against Minnesota on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016 in Carver-Hawkeye in Iowa City, IA. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers, 75-71. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

First off, don’t get me wrong, Desmond King had a great year, but Jarrod Uthoff had as good of a year as we’ve seen by an Iowa basketball player in decades.

Uthoff knew coming into the year that he’d be the lead man for Fran McCaffery’s team, and so did everybody else. After Devyn Marble and Aaron White were drafted in consecutive years, it was Uthoff’s torch to carry, and by his lead, the Hawkeyes burned brighter than ever before.

He led the team with 18.9 points, was second with 6.3 rebounds, and also logged a Big Ten-leading 2.5 blocks per game.

Uthoff was in an exclusive group of college basketball players all year long, with his rare combination of length, athleticism, smarts, and shooting stroke, and he was recognized with the corresponding hardware. He was voted unanimously to the All-Big Ten first team and was also a third-team All-American.

Oh, and let’s not forget that he was also named not just an Academic All-American, but the CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year, posting a 4.0 GPA. He also became the first Hawkeye athlete to ever be featured on the Sports Illustrated cover twice in a single year.

So listen, the basketball season didn’t end as many had once hoped, but give Uthoff a lot of credit for even making frustration an option. He was the best player for an Iowa team that rose as high as No. 4 in the nation. If the season had ended on a slightly less gut-punchy note, Uthoff would win this distinction without any argument from the Desmond King camp.

With all the accolades and success, it’s just hard to buy in to the idea that any one Hawkeye had a better year than Uthoff.

— Kyle Mann

 

Aaron Mallett

Iowa runner Aaron Mallett pushes to the finish line in the men's 110 meter hurdles at the Iowa Musco Invitational in Iowa City on Saturday, May 3. Mallett placed first in the event. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)
Iowa runner Aaron Mallett pushes to the finish line in the men’s 110 meter hurdles at the Iowa Musco Invitational in Iowa City on Saturday, May 3. Mallett placed first in the event. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

While football and basketball receive most of Iowa’s media attention, the track team is often overlooked.

Aaron Mallett, a hurdler on Iowa’s track team, deserves to be in contention for Male Athlete of the Year.

Mallett’s rise in the rankings has been the catalyst for the track program’s recent success. He possesses arguably the most prolific hurdler career in Hawkeye history; this season, in particular, bolstered his résumé.

During the 2016 indoor season, Mallett took down the school record in the 60-meter hurdles and claimed the Big Ten title in that event. He followed up his stellar Big Ten performance by placing third at the NCAA Championships, earning first-team All-American honors.

His hot-streak continued into the outdoor season.

At the Musco Twilight, the junior won his third-straight 110-meter hurdle race at the meet, adding to his undefeated home record.

The St. Louis native goes into the outdoor conference championships with the fastest 110-meter hurdles time in the Big Ten, which also ranks sixth nationally.

If he continues his hot streak in the Big Ten and NCAA Championships, there is no reason Mallett should be excluded in the conversation for Male Athlete of the Year.

— Adam Hensley

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